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The Villages
Friday, July 12, 2024

Want the Developer to enforce rules about kids living here? Then hit him in the wallet

Many residents who have shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to call The Villages home feel like they’ve been sold a false bill of goods – especially when it comes to the Developer’s apparent lack of interest in enforcing interior deed restrictions.

If Villagers put lawn ornaments or little white crosses in their yards, chances are a “troll” or two will turn them in and they’ll hear about it pretty quickly. Because like it or not, the Community Standards Department does what it’s supposed to do by making enforcement of exterior deed restrictions a top priority – something many residents appreciate.

But when it comes to those violations that happen inside the home – the most egregious of which is underage children living in the community – that enforcement power lies with the Developer. And unfortunately, judging by the way things have been going in the mega-retirement community lately with the intense focus on the massive building in the south and the sloppy transition to the fourth-generation Morse Millennials to oversee issues they clearly don’t understand, enforcement of those kinds of violations doesn’t even seem to make the list.

Community Development District 2 Supervisor Bill Schikora knows the topic all too well, having recently hosted a question-and-answer session with residents at El Santiago Recreation Center. Not surprisingly, Schikora got an earful from frustrated Villagers who feel a sense of unfairness at the Developer’s failure to live up to his end of the bargain – especially when it comes to that ongoing problem of underage children living in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.

Bill Schikora
CDD 2 Supervisor Bill Schikora

“One resident pointed out that a home in Santo Domingo was recently purchased by a woman who – at the time of the purchase – was ‘obviously pregnant’ and now has a new baby at home,” Schikora said.

One of the big issues, Schikora added, is that Villagers feel like they’ve been buffaloed by the Developer. He certainly had no problem taking their hard-earned money and tossing out a bunch of promises – let’s face it, The Villages sales reps will say just about anything to secure their commissions – that make this community different from many others across the country. But once the deal is done, the Developer always seems more interested in doing things like finding the next guy with a fat wallet or making sure weak-kneed county commissioners push through a huge tax hike to pay for infrastructure in his community than he does about following through with commitments already made to Villagers.

“Many residents feel strongly they have been misled and are being treated unfairly because the rules they were led to believe in, and to which they must adhere, are not uniformly enforced. In good conscience, I must agree,” Schikora said.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a new story here in The Villages. For quite some time, many residents have made it known that the Developer doesn’t follow up on complaints lodged by residents. Many have said they’ve been ignored, particularly by Villages Vice President Martin Dzuro, who apparently has been tasked with interior deed restriction enforcement but judging by his lack of response, must not know it.

Harold Schwartz and H. Gary Morse

In reality, those residents can complain time and time again, but unlike the days when Villages Founder Harold Schwartz and his son, retirement community guru H. Gary Morse, were at the helm, the generations in charge now clearly don’t seem to give a damn about the issues residents are raising at an alarming rate.

Instead, they appear content to stay in their executive suites in Brownwood or in the Morse compound off County Road 466 and count the stacks of cash coming into their coffers by the day. No wonder they don’t have time to follow through with commitments that at one time truly meant something in this community!

As we said earlier, by far the biggest issue with interior deed restrictions is the proliferation of children living in The Villages – a sprawling development that bills itself worldwide as a retirement community for those 55 and older. If you don’t think that’s the case, then consider a few examples of this blatant disregard for the rules:

Charles Newman, left, and Susan Newman.
Benjamin Weingard
  • A 35-year-old man was arrested earlier this year on two counts of aggravated child abuse after his four-month-old daughter suffered a brain bleed and was taken to The Villages Regional Hospital. The child was later transferred to a hospital in Orlando. Benjamin Weingard, whose address is 1107 Saldivar Road, in the Village of Santo Domingo, told law enforcement that the baby had been “fussy” and was repeatedly waking him up. The home in which Weingard has been living is owned by a couple who lives on Madero Drive, also in the Village of Santo Domingo.
Lynn Marcella Woods

Here’s the bottom line – when you bought your house in The Villages, you and the Developer agreed to certain terms. You promised to live by some rules – you’ll keep your yard cut and looking good, you won’t paint your house a garish color and you won’t do silly things like put billboards in your front yard or construct gigantic monopoles next to your house to pick up Radio Free Europe. The Developer vowed to continue to build a retirement community with high standards that doesn’t allow things like clothes hanging outside on a line, window air conditioners, dirt driveways or gigantic boats, recreational vehicles and trucks parked at homes.

But unfortunately, that continued commitment doesn’t seem to include enforcing certain rules, so don’t be surprised if you look out your front window some morning and see a school bus in front of your house. When that happens, you can always call Dzuro and file a complaint. But assuming you can even find him or get through to his jammed voicemail, we all know that will be a huge waste of time.

In reality, the only way this issue is ever going to get taken care of is for residents to hit the Developer where it hurts most – his bank account. If enough of you complain loud and long enough and it becomes known that the Developer promises children won’t live here but then doesn’t enforce the rules, retirees will shop for other places to live. Then – and only then – when the wallet takes a big enough hit that the Morse Millennials feel the pinch will the family that gives new meaning to the word “greed” actually follow through with the promises they’ve already made to you.

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