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The Villages
Monday, June 14, 2021

Officials keep close on eye on CDD 5’s decision to end anonymous complaints

Elected supervisors in The Villages are keeping a close on eye on Community Development District 5’s decision to end anonymous complaints when it comes to deed restriction violations.

As of Nov. 1, anonymous complaints will no longer be accepted in CDD 5, which stretches from the Village of Belvedere to the Village of Winifred. The discussion leading up to Friday’s 3-2 vote to eliminate anonymous complaints in CDD 5 has caught the attention of supervisors in other CDDs.

Supervisors have been taking a look at statistics on reporting in their own CDDs.

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For instance, Community Development District 8, which took over enforcement from the Developer in 2013, has received 3,658 deed compliance complaints in the past seven years. The vast majority, 3,360 complaints or 91.9 percent, were received anonymously. Only 298 complainants in seven years provided their names.

In 2019, there were five individuals in CDD 8 who each lodged between 41 and 52 complaints during a single call to Community Standards. That would appear to meet the definition of a “troll,” someone on the prowl for multiple violations of the deed restrictions.

The popular image of the trolls is two ladies in a golf cart armed with a clipboard.

“Is this the way we want out neighborhoods to be run?” asked CDD 8 Chairman Duane Johnson.

One of the most unnerving aspects of the trolls is that they might not live in the neighborhood, village or CDD in which the violation has occurred.

Johnson said CDD 5’s decision to try to rein in the trolls has sparked a lot of conversation among residents.

“It’s gotten people’s attention,” he said.

The anonymous complaint system was introduced when Community Watch stopped patrolling for violations. The idea behind the introduction of the anonymous complaint system was to preserve harmony in neighborhoods. By using Community Standards as a third party, neighbors did not need to confront their neighbors or give their names when reporting violations. And if a neighborhood is accepting of a lawn ornament or other violation, the item can remain in place as long as no complaint is lodged.

It’s clear that supervisors will be eager to keep an eye on CDD 5 as it steps into the uncharted waters of no longer accepting anonymous complaints.

“If we give it a year, we’ll know more,” said CDD 8 Supervisor Dennis Hayes, who indicated he has been hearing from residents on this topic.

CDD 7 recently took the first step toward limiting the number of violations that can be lodged in a single phone call.

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