A big crowd showed up Friday to back a Villager who has defiantly refused to take down a little white cross on display in his yard.
The crowd quickly filled up the boardroom for a public hearing before the Community Development District 8 Board of Supervisors. An overflow room was necessary to accommodate the large number of Villagers who assembled to support Wayne Anderson of the Village of Tamarind Grove. A deputy was dispatched to keep an eye on the crowd and a fire marshal was on the scene to ensure too many Villagers didn’t crowd into the main boardroom.
Anderson has kept his little white cross as well as a spinning parrot in his yard despite an anonymous complaint lodged against the items, considered lawn ornaments, which are not allowed in CDD 8.
Anderson approached the podium during the public hearing with a prepared statement. The District’s new attorney, Mark Brionez, quickly attempted to shut Anderson down.
“We need to focus on the facts of the case,” Brionez said.
Anderson attempted to continue to read his prepared statement, but was repeatedly told to stick to the facts of the case.
“Is this a rigged deck or what?” Anderson asked the crowd.
He said he was attempting to exercise his First Amendment right.
Despite numerous interruptions, Anderson soldiered on with his statement and won the enthusiastic applause of Villagers, which included residents from Orange Blossom Gardens to Calumet Grove to Pennecamp, who had attended the meeting to support him.
You can read Anderson’s entire statement at this link:Wayne Anderson statement PDF
The residents repeatedly complained that the five elected CDD 8 supervisors were speaking too softly and not talking into their microphones. There were frequent shouts of, “Can’t hear you!”
The residents also expressed frustration at not being able to speak about the topic of white crosses and anonymous complaints.
Villager Mark Nolan was one of the few in the crowd that got a chance to speak during the public hearing.
“If you make him take it down you should make everyone take it down. Otherwise it is selective enforcement,” Nolan told the board.
Supervisor Dennis Hayes made a motion, seconded by Sal Torname, to find Anderson in violation of deed compliance.
He has been given three days to bring his property into compliance by removing the cross and the parrot. If he does not, he will face a $50 fine to be followed by $25 daily fines. If fines reach $1,500, the case will be turned over to District Counsel, who could seek remedies including a lawsuit or placing a lien on Anderson’s property.
Some residents stayed until the official “public comment” period about two hours into the meeting. They got a chance to finally speak their minds.
Virginia Jacobs, Anderson’s neighbor on Ansley Path, said she had also been cited for her little white cross.
“Someone outside The Villages made the complaint against me. I want to know why that is allowed,” she said.
Roger Wright, of the Village of Buttonwood, said he would like to see majority rule on this matter.
“We have a system that is making a lot of people unhappy. There has to be a way we have to make a decision if we want The Villages to go forward. It’s a system of abdication of responsibility,” he said.
Villager Herb Fitzgerald threatened to drive around The Villages and call in anonymous complaints.
“Just not in my neighborhood,” he said.
After the meeting, Anderson said he does not plan to remove the cross.