A Lady Lake commissioner has called for the removal of the town’s chairman of the planning and zoning board after a contentious meeting over a proposed housing development.
“The chairman has to go,” Commissioner Paul Hannan declared at Monday’s meeting at Lady Lake Town Hall.
The chairman is William Sigurdson, an 88-year-old Water Oak resident who has served on the board for several years.
Last week, he chaired a planning and zoning board meeting in which a large group of residents spoke out against the planned development of 144 homes on 31 acres of land located three-quarters of a mile east of the intersection of Edwards Road and U.S. Hwy. 27/441. The crowd was so forceful and emphatic that a representative of the developer of the project made the rare move of immediately asking that the annexation and zoning requests for the project be tabled, essentially raising the white flag.
Hannan was present for part of that meeting and did not like what he witnessed. He said the meek chairman was no match for the rowdy crowd.
“The chairman was not in control,” Hannan said. “The meeting was over two hours long. It should have been three-quarters of an hour.”
Mayor Jim Rietz, who was not in attendance at the meeting, expressed some sympathy for the homeowners who spoke out that night, as well as the chairman.
“It was a touchy subject,” the mayor said.
Hannan said “nobody wants a development” in their backyard.
“But we’re talking about property rights. You own a piece of property and you follow the rules and you can develop it,” said Hannan, a resident of the Historic Side of The Villages.
The long-serving commissioner has been a frequent critic of the town’s planning and zoning board.
“The latest meeting was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was a total disgrace,” he said.
Hannan, who has previously advocated for the dismissal of the entire board in favor of a special magistrate, said it’s time for Sigurdson to step down. Immediately.
Hannan was reminded that Sigurdson’s term on the volunteer board is due to end in April.
“So we have five more months of total disorganization?” Hannan asked.
Commissioner Ed Freeman, a resident of Water Oak, said he believes Sigurdson is ready to go.
“My understanding is the chairman of that board would like to move on sooner rather than later. Let’s see if we can move that along,” Freeman said.
Sigurdson inherited the chairman’s gavel in 2019, after the sudden death of then-Chairman John Gauder, an 82-year-old resident of The Villages.