Our Retention Pond
I was recently asked "Where does it say that people can't go into the retention pond area"? So I set out to find out the answer to that question.
I have always been told people aren’t allowed in there. To tell you the truth, until lately there is very seldom I see anyone in there. Must be hot summer days but lately there have been more people by the pond. A few people know the code to the lock on the gate. Most jump the fence, but this damages the fence. The fence is bent up in places all over due to people jumping over. I’ve done a couple of minor repairs to put the top pole back into its coupling and the gates are in need of a realignment due to people climbing over.
I have looked several times in the By Laws and Declaration of Covenants for a solid answer to the question - is that area a restricted area or not? I didn’t really find an answer.
So thinking about this the following ideas came to me. First, can we allow the homeowners unrestricted access to the pond? I have seen plenty of places that allow access to homeowners for one reason or another. Then I thought, what if we just removed the fence. I previously lived in a subdivision where there were three ponds and none of them had a fence.
So I set off to find the answer. I went to the City of Winter Springs.
I asked among other things, why do we have to have a fence? Could I just give out the code to the gate so that homeowners could go in and fish?
The City Officials came back with the following reply:
The reason the retention pond at Oak Forest Unit #8 has a fence is due to how steep the pond bank is. The original design has a slope of 2:1. Per City Code (9-241 (d)), any pond with banks steeper than 4:1 requires a fence with a lock. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one deals with safety. A slope of 2:1 would be difficult for someone to get out if they were to fall into the pond.
Pretty much there you have it. We are required to have and maintain a fence and it must have a lock to keep people out. The only ones allowed in are city workers and maintenance workers. According to Sec 9 - 241 d3 of the city code of ordinances says that you have to have a lock on all fenced retention ponds.
Here is a link to the City Code:
Under Dry Bottom Ponds it says certain ponds need to have fences, under Wet Bottom Ponds (ours) it says to go by the same rules as the Dry Bottom Ponds. Under All Ponds it says if it’s fenced it must by locked.
At this point the Captain of the Winter Springs Police Department got into the conversation and said people climbing the fence are subject to Trespassing charges. He goes on to say that this area is for the treatment of run off water and is not a recreational area. He suggests that people who want to fish go to Trotwood Park.
It’s pretty black and white. Due to the type of banks we have in our pond we have to have a fence. The fence has to have a lock. The gates sole purpose is to allow city workers and maintenance people in the area and that’s it. Anyone jumping the fence is trespassing.
Besides the legality of this, there is a liability here. If God forbid we ever lost a child or someone got hurt it would grieve every person with a heart here in our neighborhood. It could open us all up to legal liabilities that could cause large assessments to us all. I don't even want to chance this happening and look to keep us all safe.
Here are some links to articles of people who thought "it would never happen to us".
Not on my watch.