Friday, February 26, 2021
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The Villages

Villagers contend the Developer should be paying higher impact fees

Villagers contend the Developer of Florida’s Friendliest Hometown should be paying higher impact fees for the construction south of State Road 44.
“The current supercharged growth in Sumter County primarily benefits the Developer. I would be very happy with slower, more measured growth,” said Richard Maisonneuve, who purchased his home in the Village of Amelia in 2009.
Sheila Ducci moved to The Villages in 2006. She loves it here.
“But I also loved and trusted Gary Morse who I believed when he announced he wouldn’t go any farther south,” she said.
Dianne Lievens of the Village of Hemingway also falls into that camp.
“I am one of the thousands who bought homes here and were told the building ends at a specific time. In my case I bought in 2008 and was told that all building will be finished in seven years.  I would participate in a class action suit against the developer for breach of promise. The entire ambience of the community has changed for the worst,” she said.
Leo Arsenault, also of the Village of Hemingway, also heard the promise of “build out” in The Villages.
“The Villages was a master-planned community that was going to have roughly 100,000 people and stop at State Road 44. That was acceptable to us. Now the Developer goes on a mass expansion and the area residents are expected to foot the bill,” he said.
Bracing for the chorus of, “So, just move,” Arsenault has an answer.
“I don’t want to live anywhere else, I just want to believe that people have integrity and be true to their word. We should be allowed to secede from The Villages and they can create a North and South where the current homeowners decide in which section to live. All the new costs associated with building south of State Road 44 would be absorbed by those moving there. It would become like two cities with each city responsible for their section,” he said.
Joe Zangrilli purchased in 2015 in the Village of Sanibel.
“Maybe it is only me; however, I was always under the impression that the impact fees were to be covered by the bonds that accompany every home, villa, or whatever that is purchased in The Villages. If that is not the case, then what do the bonds pay for? In addition, those bonds carry one heck of an exorbitant interest rate. Will someone be kind enough to answer me as to what the bonds cover?” he asked.
David Hartger of the Village of St. James, has an answer.
“The people living in The Villages own the infrastructure and pay for it with the bond. They also pay a yearly maintenance fee for improvements. When you add the bond and fees (fire department maintenance, etc.) to our property tax, it is as high or higher than it is up north. The only advantage I see is our school taxes are lower here as you would expect living in an area where a majority of the people are retired,” he said.
Charlie Carstens of the Village of Fenney said the issue of impact fees and who will pay them has become fraught with emotion and an unbiased group ought to tasked with finding the facts.
“The commissioners and all the residents really need to understand the impact of the fees before any decisions are made,” Carstens said.
“Let’s get this right for the people that live here!  Let’s not have a repeat of the mess caused by not having or sharing all the information when the taxes were increased in 2019,” he added.

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