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The Villages
Friday, June 21, 2024

Officials in court over cross vote to rid themselves of public hearing duties

Community Development District 8 supervisors, mired in a prolonged court battle over a decision rendered in a public hearing over a little white cross nearly five years ago, have voted to rid themselves of the responsibility for hearings in future deed compliance cases.

The board agreed unanimously on Friday to turn over the hearing responsibility to Terry Neal, a retired Lake County judge who already acts as the deed compliance officer for other community development districts in The Villages. The Village of Fenney resident charges $125 per hour for presiding over the cases.

CDD 8 supervisors are only handling a very small number cases in a given year.

However, the CDD 8 board remains in court over a 2019 decision in the infamous little white cross case involving Wayne and Bonnie Anderson of the Village of Tamarind Grove. A big crowd showed up at the public hearing that day to support the Andersons and their little white cross. CDD 8 supervisors were not swayed and ruled against the Andersons. The cross remains and the legal battle drags on with both the Andersons and the CDD 8 supervisors refusing to back down.

The vote in 2019 ordering the Andersons to remove the little white cross was unanimous. Two of the supervisors who voted in favor of the removal of the cross have since died. They were replaced by two appointees. Wayne Anderson has filed to run for the seat held by one of those appointees, Kevin McGovern.

The CDD boards that have surrendered the deed compliance hearing responsibility made no secret of their relief of ridding themselves of the anxiety associated with often-tense situations in the hearings.

However, the Community Development District 3 board hired Neal as its hearing officer, but later reversed that decision. CDD 3 supervisors, in their reversal, said they felt they owed it to their residents to hear the cases. CDD 3 supervisors have since said they are glad they took back that responsibility.

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