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The Villages
Thursday, May 26, 2022

Judge rules little white cross considered a lawn ornament in The Villages

A judge has ruled that a little white cross on display at a home in The Villages is considered a lawn ornament and therefore it should be removed.

Judge William Hallman III has issued a ruling siding with Community Development District 8 in its position that the little white cross on display at the home of Wayne and Bonnie Anderson in the Village of Tamarind Grove is a violation of the deed restriction.

The Andersons had argued that their little white cross should be protected by the Florida Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Andersons, who are from Wisconsin and attend St. Timothy Catholic Church in The Villages, said they were motivated to put the cross in their yard after receiving a pamphlet from the Knights of Columbus. However, they failed to show that under FRFRA the “prohibition against lawn ornamentation places a substantial burden on their free exercise of their religion.”

The Andersons are facing thousands of dollars in fines because of their stance. Other crosses remain in place at homes in The Villages because there have been no complaints. The Andersons were the target of an anonymous complaint.

The CDD 8 Board of Supervisors is scheduled to meet at 11 a.m. Friday at SeaBreeze Recreation Center. While the Andersons’ case is not on the agenda, it could come up during the report from the board’s attorney.

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