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The Villages
Friday, August 19, 2022

CDD 7 not ‘dumped’ by law firm and sees steady service ahead

The Community Development District 7 Board of Supervisors pushed back against the notion it had been “dumped” by its attorney and foresees steady service ahead when it comes to legal representation.

The board, in a special meeting Monday morning at SeaBreeze Recreation Center, agreed to continue representation by Michael Eckert who is leaving Hopping Green & Sams, which had been retained earlier this year by CDD 7. Ten of its attorneys are leaving the firm and will be joining the national firm, Kutak Rock LLP. Eckert is among those moving to Kutak.

CDD 7 supervisors appear to have been pleased with his performance.

CDD 7 Board Chairman Jerry Vicenti said it is important to have independent legal counsel. CDD 7’s previous attorney, Mark Brionez of Brionez & Brionez, concluded he had a conflict of interest representing CDD 7 with regard to the Project Wide Advisory Committee.

Vicenti conceded that sticking with Eckert will be more costly.

To date, CDD 7 has been billed $67,975.39 by Hopping Green & Sams. That is far more than would normally have been billed by Brionez & Brionez, which represents the other CDDs in The Villages.

Eckert has been paid roughly $1,000 per month to oversee CDD 7’s legal responsibilities with regard to the Architectural Review Committee. Eckert has indicated he will no longer bill for the ARC services, as as gesture of good will.

Village of Bonita Gilbert Windsor, who was previously rejected when he applied to join the CDD 7 board, got into a heated discussion with Vicenti over the higher legal fees.

“What are you getting for your money?” Windsor asked.

Anne Bosler of the Village of Hadley had a similar question.

“I feel like the decision has been made by this board to hire this attorney. I don’t know what direction this attorney will take us and how much it is going to cost us,” she said.

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