Thursday, September 5, 2013
Residents upset about rules
By SUE WATSON
A number of residents of Spring Garden Apartments, located on West Woodward Avenue at Martin Luther King Drive in Holly Springs, recently expressed outrage at what they consider restrictive rules at the complex.
Three persons were allowed to speak for the entire group before the Holly Springs mayor and board of aldermen two weeks ago.
Sharron Washington, Joyce Crane and Clemmie McFadden, who has lived at the apartment complex 41 years, spoke for the group. The apartments were rebuilt two years ago by Rick Wishcamper’s Rocky Mountain Development Group and then were placed under a management company in Germantown, Tenn.
Residents said the restrictive rules are making them miserable.
McFadden spoke first. She said the management requires that all family members coming to visit must have passes. Traffic is one way in and out of the complex. Management does not want her to sit on her porch in the evenings, she said. Wreckers tow away cars, if they do not have visitor passes.
“I feel like crying because I've never been treated that way,” she said. “We’re fenced in.”
McFadden said she was asked to give her doctor’s information.
“Something ain’t right,” she said. “I’ve been there 41 years.”
Washington said the residents do not have a problem with the rules, but with the way they are enforced.
Visitors, who do not have a visitor permit on their car, must park up on the hill and walk in, she said. She said the insurance man’s car was going to be towed away. Children are not allowed to play on the sidewalks. It is hard to talk to the landlord, who, she alleged, was nitpicking.
Mayor Kelvin Buck suggested the residents get together and make a written list of grievances to present to management.
“Express your concerns and see if you can have a redress,” he said. “The next step is to take it to the owner. I think they will listen to your concerns. I think the rules are somewhat stringent. It is not an issue the board can do anything about.”
He added that the intent of the regulations is to protect residents and to see that the facilities are maintained.
“Everybody coming out in a car is not a resident and may be destructive,” he said.
McFadden asked if she is “to sit there in my home and rot?”
She said she is not late on the rent.
“I’m hurt because my kids can’t come see me,” she said.
Crane said residents need to know who the owner is.
Ward 1 alderman Bernita Fountain said she has talked with residents and met with management and will pass the information that she found on to the residents.
Ward 2 Alderman Sharon Gipson advised residents to look at their lease and perhaps contact North Mississippi Legal Services in Oxford.
Owner of the complex, Rick Wishcamper, said the rules were tightened about three months ago because the apartments were getting complaints from Rust College officials, the City of Holly Springs and from the police department. There were problems of fighting at the complex, he said. Complaints to the police department about those problems have been significantly reduced since implementing the new rules, he said.
The management company increased security at the apartments and tightened the rules, he said.
“We like the residents to have as much freedom as possible,” Wishcamper said.
He added that it is unfortunate that the people who are doing right are suffering from the increased restrictions. The first priority is the safety of the residents and for all the residents to be able to raise their children in a safe environment, he said.
He added that the community is welcome to organize and make a list of concerns to present to management. The rules may be relaxed once the community gets stabilized and management discusses with tenants what is and is not effective, he said.
Fountain said her involvement is limited to seeing that the residents’ living conditions are comfortable. She met with residents at the community center at the complex, she said. She also spoke with the grounds manager.
The manager was very cooperative in explaining the rules and why they have been applied to make the community safe for residents, Fountain said.
The on-grounds security officer reported that there have been fewer complaint calls about criminal activity in general since the new rules were implemented, she said.
Fountain said she understands the rules have to be a part of the solution to reduce crime at the apartment complex. But her main concern is to ensure the residents of Spring Garden have a comfortable and safe living environment.
Brent Frost, regional manager of Spring Garden, pointed out the main rules that were implemented in order to protect the property and to reduce the number of calls for police help.
• vehicles parked on the property must be registered in the name of a person on the lease and the resident must have a valid driver’s license. If the vehicle does not have a visitor pass or is not registered in the name of the person on the lease, it is towed.
• visitors who drive in must have a pass. Stickers are obtained from management during the hours of 8 a.m-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visitor passes allow the owner to park his vehicle for three days. He has to request another permit when it expires.
• a towing company drives through the property twice a day and tows vehicles that are not stickered or registered in the name of a leaseholder.
• residents cannot sit on the stairs. They may sit under covered gazebos or on benches placed throughout the property. This regulation prevents large groups of people from congregating on the sidewalks or at doorways.
• persons authorized to give care to the disabled may also park, upon request. The need must be verifiable.
Jason Spellings, with Wishcamper, said the rules are all modeled after those used by the department of Housing and Urban Development.
He said the restrictions on parking vehicles not registered to tenants are to help keep out persons who come into the complex and create disturbances. The number of calls to police have decreased since the rules were implemented August 1, he said. Tenants were given notice to comply with the new rules, he said.
He said the parking rules are put into effect to keep people who are not residents or genuine visitors of the residents from coming into the complex and creating disturbances.
“We are serious about maintaining a safe environment for the children and families of Spring Garden,” Spellings said. “We regret that the actions of a few have caused inconvenience to the law-abiding majority of residents.”
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