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The Villages
Thursday, March 16, 2023

Lady Lake officials were right to stand their ground on zoning

Robert Nyce
Robert Nyce

Congratulations to the Lady Lake officials for standing their ground regarding the requested re-zoning of agricultural land for in favor of a new housing development.

Zoning in general is a costly and difficult process. A general re-zoning can take years to accomplish and is expensive, and in many cases pose a negative impact on existing property owners even when it is done by the rules and correctly.  In contrast, spot re-zoning, to give an advantage to a property purchaser at the expense of existing property owners, benefits no one except the person requesting the change.  That is why many courts have struck down spot re-zoning over the year.  The who purpose of zoning is to establish the appropriate use of land in the various locations within a jurisdiction for long term progress and planning.

The same is true for annexation which comes with significant obligations to provide future services. Many of the services required have been built and paid for by the existing residents through taxes and service fees. The only beneficiaries of annexation are the ones requesting the annexation. Keep in mind that not all services can be anticipated or predicted. This can create many unknown future expenses especially when the request includes the words “high density,” in any request for anything.  Why do you think developers want annexation? Simple to take the future burden of what can be very expensive service off of themselves and transfer those costs to the annexing municipality.  The requestor knows exactly what those services are worth in the long run. Following annexation, all the responsibility falls on the community and not the developer. What a deal!

Many thanks to those residents who came out to address the impact of this new development on their quality of life, property values and eventually on the Town of Lady Lake. Without their influence who knows what might have happened. They know that the only one to benefit is the developer – not the local residents and taxpayers. All of us need to acknowledge the pressure of the new growth in our communities. Wildwood recently put a moratorium in place on approval of new development.  It can be and most likely will be an ongoing issue across Florida. Let’s all take a deep breath, slow down and do things smart not fast. We will all benefit from that!

Caution is always more valuable when it comes to re-zoning and annexation. Simply for the reasons stated previously. No one can predict the future. These properties that are currently zoned for non-residential purposes were zoned that way for a reason. Either to protect surrounding farms, open space or because they simply were not appropriate for development due to a lack of available services.  Until a comprehensive re-zoning is completed all requests for a change should be considered one sided to the advantage of the requestor only and therefore rejected as a practice – no re-zoning without absolute proof of the advantages to the municipality from whom the request is made!  It is not wrong to ask why but it is smart.

Without some consideration for what can ultimately cost the residents substantial amounts to provide those services, neither re-zoning or annexation are appropriate considerations. Thanks to the Lady Lake officials for using good judgement to stop inappropriate growth.  Hopefully, that judgement will extend to future similar requests.  The residents and taxpayers of Lady Lake deserve no less than the strong application of common sense!

Robert Nyce is a resident of the Village of El Cortez.

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