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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Stubborn questions dog CDD 9’s annexation of Lofts at Brownwood

Questions continue to be raised about Community Development District 9’s decision last month to annex the Lofts at Brownwood into its residential district.

In April, the CDD 9 Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to annex the 265-unit apartment complex into its fold, despite the fact the apartments are geographically located on land that logically would be considered part of the Brownwood commercial district or Community Development District 10.

CDD 9 Board member Don “Smoke” Hickman on Thursday called on the board to revisit the issue. He said he did not have any regrets about making a motion last month in support of the annexation and casting his vote in favor of the measure.

The Lofts at Brownwood have been annexed into Community Development District 9.

But because bringing the Lofts at Brownwood into CDD 9 is a “new arrangement” he asked if a memorandum of understanding could be drafted which clearly states that the existing residents of CDD 9 have no financial liability for the apartments.

“I don’t see anything wrong with a statement that says who is going to do what. There are a lot of things that ought to be in writing,” Hickman said.

He said that new supervisors may come on the board in the future and might need clarification of what was agreed to at the time of the annexation.

The board’s attorney Mark Brionez said such documentation would not be necessary.

“The property is still owned by whoever owned that property at the time. Bringing property into the district doesn’t mean the district owns it,” he said.

Village of Pinellas resident Allen Holter took to the podium with multiple questions about the annexation of the apartments.

“It is not a residential enterprise. It has 265 units of people paying rent. We have no experience with this kind of venture. Everywhere else we have property owners who have a vested interest. Why didn’t CDD 10 take it?” Holter asked.

CDD 9 is located south of County Road 466A and north of Hillsborough Trail. It has no shared geographic border with the Lofts at Brownwood.

Community Development District 9 is located south of County Road 466A and north of Hillsborough Trail. It also includes the Haciendas of Mission Hills, the Atwood Bungalows and the Lofts at Brownwood.

CDD 10 Chairman Don Wiley had a similar question.

“I just have one question is – Why? What is the purpose of transferring this property from the Brownwood Development District to CDD 9?” said Wiley, who serves on the Project Wide Advisory Committee.

He said he feared that PWAC might find itself facing expenses related to the apartments.

Those fears were echoed by CDD 8 Supervisor Sal Torname on behalf of PWAC, which is made up of CDDs south of County Road 466 sharing the costs of infrastructure maintenance and improvements.

“You are going to ask your people to raise more money for PWAC. The two commercial districts are paying less than 3 percent to PWAC,” Torname said.

He said the contributions of the commercial districts to PWAC have been “trending in a downward direction.”

Hickman’s call to get something in writing did not gain any traction with his fellow CDD 9 supervisors. However, the topic is likely to be revisited when the CDD 9 Board of Supervisors holds a budget review meeting at 8 a.m. Monday, May 18 at Savannah Center. The meeting is open to the public.

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