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The Villages

Mayor’s hospitalization prompts Villages to table presentation on apartments

The sudden hospitalization of Lady Lake Mayor Jim Richards prompted The Villages on Monday night to ask to table a controversial presentation on apartments.

Mayor Jim Richards

Richards has been attending town meetings for months through a video link. He had been in a rehabilitation facility prior to his sudden hospitalization.

Commissioner Ruth Kussard, acting as mayor pro tem, learned by phone 10 minutes prior to Monday’s meeting that Richards was in the hospital. A prayer was offered for his recovery.

When the news of the mayor’s hospitalization was revealed, Villages Vice President Marty Dzuro asked that the apartments presentation be tabled.

“We would like every ward in the town to be represented. We would like to postpone this until the first Monday in November,” Dzuro said.

The Developer’s representatives were in full representation in the limited seating at Lady Lake Town Hall. That sparked the ire of Villagers who arrived up to an hour early to secure a seat in the room in which social distancing was enforced.

Apartments could replace The Villages Daily Sun offices over Margarita Republic restaurant.

“It’s not fair,” said Villager Pat Murphy. “I have been here six years and I am very disappointed in The Villages.”

Others referenced that Villagers couldn’t get a seat in a meeting on apartments last month before the Sumter Commission at Everglades Recreation Center.

The Villages was represented by Kissimmee attorney Jo Thacker, Darrin Taylor of Tallahassee consulting firm Carlton Fields, Trey Arnett of Arnett Environmental and Villages officials Marty Dzuro Jr. (Dzuro’s son) and Robert Chandler IV.

An overflow crowd of Villagers eager to speak out against the apartments had assembled outside town hall, where chairs and a public address system had been set up.

Barb DiLaura of the Village of Hacienda West is opposed to the idea of apartments in The Villages.

The presentation before the Lady Lake Commission was scheduled to be about apartments proposed for Spanish Springs Town Square. Residents are also angry about apartments planned at the former site of Hacienda Hills Country Club, which is located in Sumter County. Apartments are also planned in Lake Sumter Landing and Brownwood Paddock Square.

The Villages has asked the apartment issue be placed on the Lady Lake Commission agenda on Nov. 2.

Villager Patsy Oburn was disappointed that the discussion of the issue was being delayed.

She said she had been feeling “confident” after residents spoke out against the apartments last month before the Lady Lake Planning and Zoning Board.

She said she was impressed that the Lady Lake Planning and Zoning Board had listened to the concerns of residents. Oburn said she was concerned when she read that Commissioner Paul Hannan had criticized the members of the Planning and Zoning Board.

Oburn also objected to a plan announced by Commissioner Kussard that will force Villagers to appoint a single spokesperson whose comments would be limited to three minutes when the apartment issue is eventually addressed.

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