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Subject: Landscaping on an easement
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Author Messages
BobB31
(Florida)

Posts:167


02/04/2020 11:14 AM  
One of our homeowners recently had to deal with water intrusion into her house in the aftermath of hurricane Dorian. She had appraisers from her insurance companies telling her that the majority of her problem was due to poor drainage allowing water to pool around the base of her house. I'm not sure I agree: our buildings are higher than the street and the lawn slopes down to it. During normal rain (normal rain in FL can be as much as an inch/hr) no pooling is evident. But anyways, she is asking us to do something with our landscaping to improve the drainage. She also has a quote for a French drain along the base of the affected wall. The problem is there is a 5 ft easement to allow utilities to connect to the units in the building.

A former HOA president (from another HOA - he recently purchased one of the units) said he has had problems in the past getting utility companies to agree to any work that would disturb the easement on the property where he served as president. He as much as said that the companies have an "ownership claim" on the easement.

We have shrubs and flowers planted in the easements, along with the mulch. There was digging required to do that work. I can't find anyone who remembers when that planting was done and whether the utility companies provided any obstacle.

Can you provide some input? Should I run this by our lawyer?
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8996


02/04/2020 3:55 PM  
You can plant stuff on the easement as you like. The issue is IF/WHEN the county/city comes to do some work on their utilities, they are NOT going to put it back. They don't have to pay for it to be returned to original condition. It would be different if you were not landscaped on their easement.

So contact the Utilities before you ever dig or modify. They aren't necessarily responsible for anything other than their equipment. It's not like they are responsible to do the work unless it's damaging to them.

I've put a French drain in. It helps. Just make sure you put a "sock" on the tube. It will prevent from clogging. You can also consider putting in a gravel pit. Which is what I did. Dug down about 4 feet and loaded it with gravel. Kept the dirt on top. It allowed for drainage of the overflow.

If there are gutters can always try to get some gutter diverters. There are some that just roll out when it rains and rolls back in when it's done. It will help slow down the rate of water being dispursed.

Former HOA President
BobB31
(Florida)

Posts:167


02/07/2020 1:48 PM  
I have an add-on question if I may:

The landscaping the homeowner wants is on the common property, meaning that a special assessment would be required to perform it. However, the work would only benefit her unit which is the end unit of the building, so it seems appropriate to make her pay for it. Can someone help my out of this dilemma?
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8996


02/07/2020 4:28 PM  
Just because 1 member reaps the benefits doesn't mean you all can't do a special assessment to pay for it. Other members have to agree in the 1st place to have a special assessment. If majority agrees this is something worth spending everyone's money on, then next step is to raise the money.

It really depends on the situation and where the HOA responsibility lies. We took down some trees in our HOA's common area. Not every home got their trees cut down. Just the problem trees like Bradford Pears and a few here and there. It made a huge difference in our HOA to have done that work.

Former HOA President
BobB31
(Florida)

Posts:167


02/08/2020 9:13 AM  
In our HOA, special assessments are approved by the Board, not the membership as a whole.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9121


02/08/2020 9:32 AM  
Bob

Have your landscaper look at the problem area. Maybe a regrading away form the building will cure the problem.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3545


02/08/2020 2:14 PM  
Posted By BobB31 on 02/07/2020 1:48 PM
I have an add-on question if I may:

The landscaping the homeowner wants is on the common property, meaning that a special assessment would be required to perform it. However, the work would only benefit her unit which is the end unit of the building, so it seems appropriate to make her pay for it. Can someone help my out of this dilemma?

What about your stormwater system? If you have retention or detention ponds then you've also probably got an operational permit from your local Water Management District. Most WMDs put the entire burden of maintaining the drainage of the common property on the HOA. It's not right to shift that burden onto the homeowners. If the drainage problem exists on the common property and is negatively affecting a home NOT on the common property, then it's up to the HOA to solve the problem regardless of how many homeowners benefit. The existing situation is a detriment to her home. You want her to pay for the "benefit" of having the detriment removed?

Check your plat and your governing documents. Odds are that any chronic drainage problems are the responsibility of the association.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3545


02/08/2020 2:17 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 02/07/2020 4:28 PM
Other members have to agree in the 1st place to have a special assessment.

This is almost complete garbage. Many, many HOAs in Florida do not require any input or approval from the homeowners at all where special assessments are concerned.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8996


02/09/2020 5:09 AM  
Each HOA is different. Our documents require a vote from the membership NOT board to have a special assessment. It's the job of the board to collect the vote and make the project happen.

Former HOA President
BobB31
(Florida)

Posts:167


02/09/2020 5:51 AM  
I know nothing of any stormwater system. Droppipes from the upper roof gutters drain into corrugated pipes buried in our lawns. They work fine as long as we keep them clear. The lower roof gutters are fed onto our parking lots which allow water to flow into the west-side street. There are no retention or detention ponds.

We are on a barrier island and drainage is always an issue. During a rainstorm, the west-side street becomes flooded. After the rain, our parking lot entrances letting out onto that street have large puddles for at least a day. ON the east side, across SRA1A from the ocean, the slightly sunken sidewalk becomes a river for a good day after the rain stops. And this is for normal rainfalls of about an inch or so. For major storms, the water takes much longer to be absorbed into the water table.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3545


02/09/2020 2:06 PM  
Posted By BobB31 on 02/09/2020 5:51 AM
I know nothing of any stormwater system.

I suggest you look into that. It's possible that your community was built without requiring a site plan for drainage, but as far as I know every development for decades in Florida has required a site drainage plan that must be approved by the county and whatever Water Management District you're in. Check if there's a Plat filed in your county's official records for the community. If there are any local or WMD requirements they're probably written right on the Plat somewhere.

Florida's first stormwater rule was adopted in 1981.

"A stormwater management system is defined in Sections 373.403(10) and 403.031(16), F.S., and in Section 2.0 of Handbook Volume I, as a system that is designed and constructed or implemented to control discharges which are necessitated by rainfall events, incorporating methods to collect, convey, store, absorb, inhibit, treat, use or reuse water to prevent or reduce flooding, overdrainage, environmental degradation, and water pollution or otherwise affect the quantity and quality of discharges from the system."
BobB31
(Florida)

Posts:167


02/09/2020 4:10 PM  
Ah, our buildings were built in the 70s. The plats have no reference to any stormwater plans, but I'm looking at the scans attached to our C&Rs. I will try to find the plats filed with the county, but I am skeptical that any formal plan was referenced prior to that 1981 rule.
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