Villagers at war over landscape barrier causing them costly maintenance

Villages neighbors are at war over a landscape barrier causing them costly maintenance.

The landscape barrier is located between Covington Circle and Clemson Circle between premier homes in Royal Oak and their neighbors in the rest of the Village of Springdale.

Neighbors, who are in conflict over the maintenance over the unwieldy and rapidly growing bushes, attended Friday’s meeting of the Community Development District 4 Board of Supervisors.

“You can’t just keep letting it grow and grow and grow. There’s no place in The Villages like that. It’s not aesthetically pleasing. But it’s about more than aesthetics,” said Janet Bassett, who lives on Clemson Circle in the Village of Springdale.

The conflict dates back to 2007 and at one point a “gentlemen’s agreement” was reached requiring neighbors to keep the bushes limited to eight to 10 feet high in accordance with good horticultural practice as recommended by an arborist retained by the District Office.

Some residents claimed the bushes have grown as tall as 25 feet tall. In addition to the cost and hard work, the bushes are seen as a safety concern. Some aging residents said they have simply grown too old to climb on a ladder.

Residents want to have CDD 4 take over the maintenance responsibility, but that would violate a prohibition against using public money for the benefit of private property owners.

“I don’t know where it says we own these bushes,” said Carolyn Willette, who lives on Covington Circle.

Although Villagers have the maintenance responsibility, they don’t have the option of removing the bushes.

“It’s a special easement. It’s meant to be there as a buffer,” said District Counsel Valerie Fuchs.

She said it is hoped the neighbors would work it out among themselves. But that clearly is not happening, as evidenced by grumbling Villagers who left the meeting, united at least by their unhappiness.