Sunday, September 27, 2020
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The Villages

Return of restaurant at Hacienda Hills not clearly spelled out in AAC proposal

Residents were bitterly disappointed when a part of their promised “country club living” disappeared in 2019 with the closure of Hacienda Hills Country Club.

The proposal that the Developer will build a new restaurant at the site of the now-demolished Hacienda Hills Country Club comes with a bitter pill for residents to swallow – a large apartment building.

A close examination of the request from the Villages of Lake-Sumter Inc. for 300 amenity privileges for the future apartment dwellers fails to mention the promised restaurant. And it does not offer specifics about the other promises from the Developer – “a resort-style pool, sport and activity courts, walking paths and open spaces – all of which shall be accessible to residents and guests.”

Villagers watched with some sadness as the Hacienda Hills Country Club was demolished.

The Amenity Authority Committee will discuss the Developer’s proposal at a meeting set for 9 a.m. Wednesday at Savannah Center. The meeting is open to the public.

Residents recently watched with sadness and some anger as the Hacienda Hills Country Club, including the priority pool, were demolished. Many mourned the loss of the once fashionable restaurant. Everyone wondered what was next.

Last week, Villages Operations Manager Ryan McCabe unveiled via The Villages Daily Sun the “age-restricted residential units” and return of a restaurant.

What The Villages wants is clear – 300 amenity privileges that would make the apartments a more lucrative venture.

What the AAC, and the residents, would be getting in return isn’t as clear.

The language before the AAC states:

“As presented, the amended agreement provides VLS (Villages of Lake-Sumter Inc.) the ability to utilize the unused amenity rights for age-restricted units, and to construct additional amenity improvements at no cost to residents and guests in the Village Center District territory and The Villages community at large. If the amenity rights are utilized in this manner, VLS shall construct, at a minimum, a resort-style pool, sport and activity courts, walking paths and open spaces – all of which shall be accessible to residents and guests. Furthermore, the additional amenities would be perpetually maintained by VLS.”

The language does not mention a restaurant, does not guarantee the size or capacity of the resort-style pool and does not describe the length or quality of the walking paths.

Many residents have been speaking out in opposition to the idea of an apartment building in this older, long-settled section of The Villages.

“We bought our home in Palo Alto because of the maturity of the landscaping and the fact that everything was already established. In other words, we bought into The Villages north of 466 because everything was already built and there would be no surprises. Traveling down Morse Boulevard past the country club has been pleasant. We golf there regularly. The addition of high density units will change the whole complexion of the area. I could re-state what many others have already voiced regarding the additional traffic on Morse Boulevard, the decreased access to amenities, etc., but I won’t go into all of those issues. We are simply asking to consider the deleterious effect such housing would have on an already established community,” said Villager Gary Schaffer.

Residents can email their AAC members prior to Wednesday’s meeting at the following email addresses:

AAC Chair Ann Forrester (CDD 2) ann.forrester@districtgov.org

Carl Bell (CDD 1) carl.bell@districtgov.org

John Wilcox (CDD 3) john.wilcox@districtgov.org

Don Deakin (CDD 4) don.deakin@districtgov.org

Lowell Barker (Lady Lake/Lake County) lowell.barker@districtgov.org

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