A controversial hedge in the Village of Springdale had residents practically demanding help from Community Development District 4 supervisors on Friday.
But the board members had to explain to the residents that they really have no say over the hedge that runs between the backyards of 26 homes on Clemson Circle and Covington Circle.
District Manager Richard Baier said the hedges were put in by the Villages Developer years ago when the homes were first built. He said many of the residents living there are concerned about the Sweet Viburnum Hedge, who can grow to at least 20 feet in height. And they came to CDD 4’s board meeting at the Savannah Center to express their desires for Community Standards to enforce a height rule.
But the issue, Baier said, is that the guidelines that were put in place when the hedges were first planted gave Community Standards “no teeth” to enforce any such rule. In fact, the District’s Rule only required owners of the homesites to “maintain the vegetation” with “good horticultural practice.”
That language led CDD 4 supervisors to delete that quasi-enforcement language from the guidelines that Community Standards operates under, since the group really had no enforcement power whatsoever on the height of the hedges.
That didn’t set well with several residents. Some expressed dismay at an age-old “gentlemen’s agreement” between property owners about the height of the shrubbery that they say never really worked. And others argued that there must be something the CDD 4 board could do.
“When it grows five more feet, I will no longer be able to see the sky out of the back of my house,” said Ruth S. Chinn, who lives on Clemson Circle. “There’s no such thing as a gentleman’s agreement in this neighborhood. I’m in a prison in my house.”
Several times during the sometimes emotional hearing, Baier and District Counsel Valerie Fuchs had to reiterate that the District couldn’t do anything about the heights of the shrubbery, which vary from yard to yard. They told the residents it was really a civil matter and said the District couldn’t offer any advice about trimming the hedge or how to deal with the issue moving forward.
“There’s no help we can give them because there’s no maximum height specified to which the District can just say, ‘That’s the standard,’” Baier said. “We can’t make up a standard. It just doesn’t exist.”