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The Villages
Friday, August 19, 2022

CDD 7 vows to end rubber stamping by hiring top legal firm

Community Development District 7 on Thursday vowed to end “rubber stamping” by hiring a top legal firm to represent the interests of its residents.

CDD 7 voted 3-1 to hire Tallahassee law firm Hopping, Green & Sams as its legal representative. Those voting in favor were Chairman Jerry Vicenti who was joined by Supervisors Steve Lapp and Ed Coleman. Supervisor Dennis Broedlin voted against the change and Supervisor William VonDohlen was absent.

Vicenti said CDD 7 was venturing into “uncharted waters,” but declared the era of “rubber stamping” was over.

Vicenti said that last year’s revelation that attorney Mark Brionez of Brionez & Brionez had a conflict of interest due to his representation of other community development districts which make up the Project Wide Advisory Committee, of which CDD 7 is a member, was a blessing in disguise.

“It was a wakeup call,” Vicenti said.

He represents CDD 7 on PWAC, but has long bemoaned the fact that PWAC is soaking up more and more of CDD 7’s annual budget, which is funded with residents’ maintenance assessments.

“When we gave our authority to PWAC we were really giving it to the commercial property districts,” Vicenti said, noting that PWAC serves strictly in an advisory capacity, with the real authority falling to the Sumter Landing Community Development District.

“We usually just rubber stamp everything,” he said.

By hiring its own, independent legal firm, he said CDD 7 will benefit from an expert team with a unique understanding of special districts in Florida.

CDD 7 has been making noise about trying to overturn a 20-year agreement with PWAC which some members said they agreed to “under duress.”

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