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Melrose Neighborhood

Melrose, one of Vista Lakes' gated neighborhoods, contains 81 single family homes.

Are you on the Melrose Email Distribution List? If you are not getting periodic informative emails from me, you are not on the list. If you would like to be included, please email me.

Melrose Neighborhood Representative



Violation Notices

Did you get a “Friendly Reminder”* letter this week? If so and are like most people, you are a bit indignant about it, or resentful, or even angry that somebody tells you how to maintain your yard (one of our neighbors is fond of calling our homeowners’ association “The Gestapo”). Should this be you, here are five thoughts:

You are not alone! There were between 150 and 200 violation letters sent to Melrosians (I got two); that’s an average of roughly two letters per house, although some of you didn’t receive any and a few received many.

This is not a new policy! It has always been the policy of the homeowners’ association to send violation letters for not following our guidelines, but unfortunately our former management company ignored thousands of violations over the years (which is a major reason they are our former management company).

At the end of the day, we get the benefit of enforced violations! Melrose, and all of Vista Lakes, will look better, and this translates into dollars should we sell our house.

Don’t ignore the violation letters! Violations will be pursued (there are regular follow-up inspections) and eventually lawyers may get involved, and when lawyers get involved, it will cost you money! If you don’t pay the money, there will be liens put on your house and you can’t sell your house until any liens are paid. Yes, they are serious about this!

Don’t beat on Monty! Our Community Manager, Monty Brown, has been charged by the Board of Directors with handling violations. He has been verbally abused and threatened, but he is just doing the job he has been given. If you seek non-argumentative clarifications, contact him. But if you disagree with a guideline, Monte can’t do anything about it and arguing with him will accomplish nothing; contact the Board of Directors, or better yet, attend a Board meeting – all the decision-makers are there and if anything changes, only they, not the staff, can make the change. Board meetings are held the second Thursday of every month and start with an open dialog with residents at 6:30.

I hope you’re feeling better!

I’ll end this now because I have to go trim my palm tree and fix my garage window!

Jim Shelton, Melrose Neighborhood Representative

*I have always been somewhat jarred by the term “friendly reminder” in a letter telling me to fix something. It’s like, “This is a friendly reminder that we are about to repossess your car for non-payments.”


2015 Assessments for Melrose
 Per House
per Quarter 
 Per House
per Year 
per Year
Total Annual Assessment  $              180.65  $            722.60  $          58,529.81
Base Assessment  $              116.50  $            466.00  $          37,746.00
Road Reserves  $                44.75  $            179.01  $          14,500.00
Pressure Wash Sidewalks  $                16.72  $              66.90  $             5,418.75
Gate Maintenance  $                (3.58)  $            (14.32)  $          (1,159.94)
Unanticipated Maintenance  $                  6.25  $              25.00  $             2,025.00
 $              180.65  $            722.59  $          58,529.81
2015 Cost of Neighborhood Being Gated  $                64.15  $            256.59  $          20,783.81

Did You Know That Gated Neighborhoods Have Additional Assessments???

[The following article appeared in the April, 2015 issue of the Vista Lakes newsletter. The specific assessed amounts for 2015 for this neighborhood are shown in the table below.]

It is true! Carlisle, Melrose, Waverly, Warwick and Windsor have additional assessments to the $466 all homeowners pay (except Central Park and Horizon which are not addressed in this article).

Why? Because the Vista Lakes Community Association, (VLCA, our homeowners association) owns the street surfaces, sidewalks, curbs, gutters, and storm water basins in gated neighborhoods whereas the City of Orlando owns everything in non-gated neighborhoods. Therefore, the VLCA, that’s all of us, is responsible for maintenance and replacement.

How much money is needed for gated streets maintenance? Over the next thirty years, the total cost of roads, etc. repair for all five neighborhoods is estimated to be $5,351,000. This estimate is from the latest Reserve Study made by a company hired by our Board who did an extensive inspection and analysis of VLCA property. The study includes when repairs would be needed for the next thirty years and what they will cost.

Where does the money come from? From a “Road Reserve” fund for each neighborhood which is funded by a portion of the assessment in that neighborhood each year. For Carlisle, Waverly and Windsor which share some roads, the costs are apportioned among the homeowners in all three neighborhoods. The Road Reserve funds were established by our developer, Newland Communities, and the balance at the time given to the VLCA at turnover. No money from assessments in non-gated neighborhoods is used for gated neighborhoods. At the end of 2014, there was a combined $1,774,365 in the Road Reserve funds.

These funds were established to avoid socking residents with huge special assessments at the time repairs are needed. The Reserve Study included how much money must be contributed each year to each neighborhood’s Road Reserves to assure there will be enough money to pay for repairs when needed. For 2015, a new Road Reserve analysis was used, and the annual contributions were reduced because a more modern technique of replacing the road surfaces was assumed: grinding the old surface rather than digging up the road and replacing it. The 2015 contributions range from $14,500 for Melrose to $35,000 for Warwick; the differences are because of differences in the square yardage areas, length of curbing, etc.

Are there any other costs added to gated homeowner’s assessment? Yes.

Gates: the road reserve does not include the gates, so a small assessment was added. The Board estimates how much gate maintenance will cost each neighborhood the coming year, puts it in the assessment, and adjusts the assessment the following year so that over the long haul homeowners pay the actual expenses for their neighborhoods. In 2014 expenses were lower than expected, so gated neighborhoods got a modest credit this year.

Pressure Washing Sidewalks: Because the VLCA owns the sidewalks in gated neighborhoods, it may be liable if they are sued because of an accident. Last year a person slipped on a wet slimy sidewalk in another neighborhood; this reminded the Board about the importance of keeping sidewalks safe, so they decided to reduce that risk by pressure washing slimy sidewalks. The Board decided that while they were at it, they would pressure wash all VLCA-owned sidewalks for aesthetic reasons, slippery or not. Note that the VLCA has no jurisdiction over the City sidewalks in non-gated neighborhoods.

Unanticipated Maintenance: the Board decided to add $25 to each of our assessments just in case unanticipated maintenance to VLCA property is needed as our neighborhoods grow older. I am not aware what this would be since the gates, road, etc. and pressure washing are already covered, but it does not matter because if the money is not spent, our future assessments will be adjusted accordingly and gated homeowners over the long run will pay only actual costs for unanticipated maintenance.

Where can I find the details about the assessment for my neighborhood? On VistaLakesFL.com; click on Neighborhoods, then your neighborhood. The 2015 budget, put together by Bill Gompel, ex Board member and treasurer, can be found in the assessment coupon booklet and on the web site under Finance Committee.

This is expensive! Why do we have gated neighborhoods? It is all about the gates. Gates may only be erected on private land, so if the VLCA did not own the common land in gated neighborhoods, gates could not be erected.

Jim Shelton
Former VLCA Treasurer


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