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The Villages
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Frustrated Lady Lake commissioner signals ‘hands tied’ in vote on The Villages

James Rietz

A frustrated Lady Lake commissioner dramatically held up his hands – joined at the wrists – in casting his vote on a sensitive matter involving The Villages.

Commissioner James Rietz, who has a “Save Spanish Springs” decal on the rear window of his SUV, was in the majority Monday night when he voted to allow The Villages to rescind a 33-year-old agreement with the Town of Lady Lake.

“My hands are tied,” Rietz said as held his hands up high for the audience to see in the commission chambers at Lady Lake Town Hall.

It was the first reading on the ordinance. The second, and final reading, is scheduled for Nov. 15.

Only Commissioner Paul Hannan voted against the measure. The longtime resident of the Historic Side of The Villages remains openly suspicious of the motives behind this move.

In the debate over this topic, Mayor Ruth Kussard reminded fellow commissioners and audience members, “This is not about apartments.” The mayor has been heavy handed with the gavel, ready to shut down any mention of apartments during discussion on The Villages’ desire to rescind the development of regional impact agreement that dates back to the days of Villages founder Harold Schwartz.

However, it is without question that The Villages’ desire to convert commercial space to apartments at Spanish Springs Town Square is driving the move to rescind the agreement.

The commission voted 3-2 earlier this year in opposition to apartments at the square, prompting a lawsuit from The Villages.

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