Villager complains residents’ local children getting free ride at residents’ expense

A Villager is complaining that residents’ local children and grandchildren are getting a free ride in their use of amenities at the residents’ expense.

Catherine Laird, of the Village of Duval, made her case Thursday morning before the Community Development District 7 Board of Supervisors.

She complained that a single homeowner can bring in multiple local families through the payment of one homeowner’s amenity fee.

She was referring to the in-area passes that are granted for up to a year at a time to Villagers’ children and grandchildren living in Sumter, Lake and Marion counties.

“We have to start charging these people,” Laird told the board.

CDD 7 Supervisor Jerry Vicenti said the terms “grandchildren” and “children” can be confusing when referring to these local residents.

“They are not necessarily ‘children,’” he said. “In many instances, these are adults.”

Carrie Duckett, who heads customer service and communications for the District Office, explained the reasoning behind the policy, which was drafted by a resident committee.

“A lot of residents move here and then a year later their children and grandchildren move here to be closer to them,” Duckett said. “If you have family living in The Villages you want to enjoy (the amenities) with them.”

She pointed out that the younger families with children don’t have the opportunity to move into The Villages. Those local guests must be accompanied by their Villages host whenever using amenities in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.

CDD 7 Supervisor Mark Gallo said he believed the policy was not consistent with the message delivered earlier this year by Developer Mark Morse in his Evening with the Developer address.

“He claims he is looking out for the residents’ lifestyle. Now we are giving it away to people who live in the area,” Gallo said.

Laird was told that the CDD 7 board has no authority over amenities. She was invited to air her concerns before the Project Wide Advisory Committee, which will meet at 8:30 a.m. Monday at the District Office at Lake Sumter Landing.