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The Villages
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Residents urge CDD 7 supervisors to keep anonymous complaint system

Community Development District 7 supervisors opened a discussion Thursday on anonymous deed restriction complaints, but delayed a decision until next month.

A proposal calls for keeping the anonymous complaint system, but requiring complainants to provide their home’s unit number within the district. Only one complaint could be lodged at a time.

The move is designed to prevent so-called trolls from scouting neighborhoods to assemble lists of complaints.

The CDD 7 board held a public hearing on the issue, but continued the hearing and a vote until next month so Supervisor Ed Coleman, who was not present, could participate.

CDD 7 includes the villages of Bonita, Duval, Hemingway and Hadley.

Matt Armstrong, director of Resident Service in The Villages, said CDD 7 does not have a serious troll problem.

Of 271 complaints lodged last year in the district, he said only five cases involved multiple complaints.

During the public hearing, resident Wade Pate said complainants should be required to show their Villages ID, which means all complaints would be filed in person. He said names would not have to be recorded.

“I can go online and get unit numbers,” he said, which would allow non-district residents to file complaints. 

The unit number is the first number on a Villages ID card and CDD 7 has 35 housing units.

People now can lodge complaints by phone or email, although email messages are public records.

Other speakers advocated for keeping anonymous complaints.

Real estate agent Bob Reese said revealing complainant names opens them up to ridicule and retaliation.

Kim Ruppert, who lives in CDD 12, said she experienced that when she lodged a complaint about a neighbor who she said failed to clean up large amounts of dog excrement. CDD 12 stopped accepting anonymous complaints and requires address verification to make sure complainants live in the district.

Ruppert said a non-anonymous system ultimately could cause a domino effect that leads to sinking property values.

“Harassment does occur,” she said. “People are going to be afraid to complain. If they’re afraid to complain, properties are going to go into decline.”

Anonymous complaints are accepted in districts 1, 8, 10, 11 and the Lady Lake/Lake County portion of The Villages.

In districts 4 and 9, anonymous complaints are accepted but complainants must provide unit numbers to prove they are district resident

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