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The Villages
Monday, May 27, 2024

Commissioner says Hacienda Hills apartments should be decided by incoming board

Commissioner Doug Gilpin

Sumter County Commissioner Doug Gilpin said he will move to delay consideration of the controversial Hacienda Hills apartment project until newly elected commissioners are seated.

The board is scheduled to take a final vote on the plan Oct. 27, a month before the new commissioners are sworn in.

Gilpin, one of two current commissioners to remain, said Tuesday night that he will make a motion to delay on Oct. 13, when the first reading of the proposed amendments will be heard.

“That will be my motion – to withhold the final decision until the new board is here,” he said.

Three commissioners, Don Burgess, Al Butler and Steve Printz, were defeated in the August primary. They voiced support for Gilpin’s motion.

“I don’t think that’s a bad idea,” Butler said.

New commissioners will be Craig Estep and Oren Miller. Gary Search faces Larry Green in the November election.

 At a zoning meeting Monday night on the apartment plan, several speakers accused The Villages of trying to push their plans through before the new commissioners arrive.

An estimated 150 people attended the nearly six-hour zoning hearing at the Everglades Recreation Center to protest the plans. But Sumter County Special Master Zachary Broome recommended that commissioners approve the amendments.

Jo Thacker

The Villages demolished the country club and now plans to build up to four-story apartment buildings with more than 250 units. The site also will include a restaurant, resort pool, sports courts and walking trails, said Orlando attorney Jo Thacker, who represented The Villages at the zoning hearing.

Second-floor apartments also are planned at Lake Sumter Landing in as many as 22 buildings. All apartments would be age-restricted.

Longtime residents near the former country club said the apartments would hurt property values on their Premier and Designer homes, as well as violate promises made by The Villages founder Harold Schwartz.

They said the development would aggravate traffic on Morse Boulevard, already a congested street especially during snowbird season.

Thacker said a 2018 study found a shortage of multi-family housing in Sumter County and that the proposed Villages developments at Hacienda Hills and Lake Sumter Landing would help address that need.

The Lady Lake Planning and Zoning Board recommended Sept. 14 that a similar apartment plan for Spanish Springs Town Square be denied.

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