CDD 5 splits on contentious issue of Villager’s 15-year-old landscaping

The Community Development District 5 Board of Supervisors have split 3-2 on the forced removal of a Villager’s nearly 15-year-old landscaping.

Thomas Rinker purchased his home in 2005 at 1462 Pelican Path in the Village of Sunset Pointe. One year later, he had a contractor put in landscaping that was partially located in Sumter County’s right of way.

Rinker’s neighbors packed a public hearing Friday morning at Savannah Center where CDD 5 supervisors were charged with the responsibility of determining whether a deed violation had occurred.

Villager Thomas Rinker testifies Friday morning at the podium regarding his landscaping.

Rinker made a passionate plea to keep his landscaping in place, a plea that was clearly supported by his neighbors. Rinker presented paperwork he said he obtained from the county and supported his contention that he was not in violation. However, there were gaps in the paperwork and its source. 

“Everything is muddled between ‘county’ and ‘deed restriction,’” said CDD 5 Supervisor Walter Martin.

Rinker admitted he did not seek approval from the Architectural Review Committee when he had the landscaping installed.

The disputed landscaping at Thomas Rinker’s home in the Village of Sunset Pointe.

However, Rinker said everything was fine until a troll came by his home and turned him in.

“It’s been there for 15 years. Your white (Community Watch) trucks have driven right by it all these years,” Rinker said.

CDD 5 resident Lee Gilpin of the Village of Liberty Park said the paperwork given to Villagers at the time of the purchase of their homes is too confusing.

“The wording in the documents we got when we bought our houses is hard to understand. There should be some reasonableness in this case,” Gilpin told the board. “This has been going on so long. I don’t think the family/the Developer wants you to make a decision like this.”

The board split 3-2 with the majority voting to give Rinker 45 days to bring the property into compliance. If not, he will be fined $150 followed by a $50 daily fine until the landscaping is removed.

Those voting for the removal of the landscaping were Supervisors Gary Kadow, Jerry Knoll and Chuck Wildzunas. Those opposed were Supervisors Gerald Ferlisi and Walter Martin.

Kadow asked that Community Standards work with Rinker to make the transition as easy as possible.

“This is not always an easy thing to do. There is no question you did it with a good heart.” Kadow told Rinker.

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