Defiant homeowner in The Villages fights to keep Florida-Friendly Landscaping

A defiant homeowner in The Villages fought Friday to keep Florida-Friendly Landscaping at her home.

Kathleen Stringer, who lives at 17910 SE 83rd Melody Avenue in the Village of Piedmont, appeared before the Community Development District 4 Board of Supervisors in a public hearing Friday afternoon at Savannah Center.

Photographs presented as evidence at the hearing showed a wild entanglement of plants, shrubs and bamboo at her home.

Stringer testified that she “married into this situation” and she “didn’t even know about deeds and covenants.” She said her late husband may have signed off on some documents, but she had not been aware of it.

Kathleen Stringer maintains her home has Florida-Friendly Landscaping.

She claimed that she has been a victim of the anonymous complaint process in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.

“I understand there are women going around in golf carts with pad and paper taking down what they think are violations. They don’t even live in our village,” Stringer said.

She defended her landscaping and said it has been in place for nearly 16 years.

“My property is beautiful. It is Florida Friendly. I get a lot of comments on it,” Stringer told the board.

That comment drew howls of disbelief from some members of the audience who are Stringer’s neighbors in the Village of Piedmont.

Patricia Haas, who lives on Bartram Loop near Stringer’s home, described the jungle she sees on a daily basis.

“Unfortunately, I live behind this property,” Haas said.

In particular, she complained about the height of some of the landscaping.

“Just how tall can this get? Can it get to be 50 feet tall?” she asked.

Another neighbor complained about snakes at the property.

A supervisor joined in the criticism.

“It’s not what The Villages should look like,” said CDD 4 Supervisor Cliff Weiner, who lives in the neighborhood and served for years on the Architectural Review Committee.

The University of Florida Extension Service describes Florida-Friendly Landscaping as a “beautiful landscape that could save you time, energy and money while protecting our future.”

Neighbors say the Florida Friendly landscaping at this home in the Village of Amelia has gone too far.

Earlier this year, another home with Florida-Friendly landscaping drew criticism in The Villages.

The CDD 4 board voted to find Stringer in violation of deed compliance rules.

She has been given 15 days to bring the property into compliance. If she fails to do so, she could face a series of fines.