THE VHA’S July Quarterly Town Hall Q & A SUMMARY
The VHA wants to thank the following people for providing answers to questions from VHA members and Villages residents for The VHA Town Hall meeting: Dr. Gary Lester – Vice President Community Relations, Carrie Duckett – Assistant District Manager, Lt. Robert Siemer – District Lieutenant from the Sumter County Sheriff’s Department, Bradley Arnold – Sumter County Administrator, representative for Lake County.
Note: Some questions sent for this Town Hall meeting were recently asked and answered. The complete Q & A of previous Town Hall Meetings are posted on The VHA website.
1. Would you please give an update for the site of the former Hacienda Hills Country Club?
Dr. Lester: This project involves decisions for the Spanish Springs town square and remains on hold while the situation with Lady Lake and the new second floor apartments is resolved. We are committed to doing all we can to keep Spanish Springs active and healthy, supporting our residents who enjoy going there and the merchants who serve them.
2. Would you please give an update on the movie theaters?
a. What is the projected completion date of the Rialto Theater?
b. Will there be comedy club and other events in the Rialto?
c. When will Brownwood Theater open?
d. When will Old Mill Run Theater open 7 days a week?
Dr. Lester: We are monitoring how the movie industry is moving forward post-COVID before making decisions for the Villages movie theaters.
Q. Many people enjoy evening shows. Who makes decisions on movie times? All of the current movie start times are before 6:00 p.m. We prefer evening showings.
A. The movie theaters schedule those times and the suggestion will be passed on.
Editor’s Note: Currently only Old Mill is open for movies, with live shows offered by Lazy Mac’s restaurant (inside the theater) every night featuring music, comedy, trivia, improv, and blazing pianos. Visit their website at: https://lazymacs.com/
3. Are there plans to bring more events to Spanish Springs i.e. food trucks, farmer’s market, parades?
Dr. Lester: Activities are rotated through the town squares so that each of them has an equal number of activities including special events and services.
4. Are there plans to build an indoor swimming pool in The Villages?
Carrie Duckett: We are unaware of any current plans for an indoor swimming pool. Please keep reading The Villages Daily Sun “Continuing the Dream” inserts for future construction updates from the Developer.
5. Are there plans to build a venue similar to Katie Belle’s where residents can plan large banquets / events?
Dr. Lester: No.
6. What is causing the delay in opening Publix liquor store at Magnolia Plaza?
Dr. Lester: Publix had an internal issue, which has been resolved, and the opening should be soon.
7. Regarding the championship golf courses:
a. Please explain why fairways and ruff are mowed daily in fall and winter rather than allowing grass to grow in more?
Dr. Lester: The groundskeeper determines frequency of mowing by measuring for the proper height according to the industry standard.
b. After Southern Oaks is completed, when will the next two championship golf courses be built?
Dr. Lester: There is no schedule yet.
8. Some properties only receive regular lawn maintenance when they are rented. This requires residents to call in frequent complaints regarding overgrown lawns while the properties are vacant. After multiple complaints, please explain why deed restrictions are not enforced.
Carrie Duckett: Community Standards is a complaint driven department. Once a complaint is received, the Deed Compliance Officer visits the property and if a violation is verified, staff will begin its process to bring the property into compliance. The process includes sending up to three letters and then the case would be presented to the Board of Supervisors in a public hearing for final enforcement. If the property is deemed to be in compliance, Community Standards does not monitor it to be sure it stays in compliance. If compliance is not maintained, a new complaint needs to be filed.
The final enforcement, if the owner does not comply, may include authorizing the District to maintain the property twice a month in the summer and once a month in the winter, as needed, and imposing a $250.00 fine each time the District maintains the property. Depending on the circumstances of the case, if the fines reach $1,500, the Board may authorize the case be turned over to District Counsel to seek all available legal remedies, which may include; initiating a lawsuit, seeking an injunction against the owner, and placing a lien on the property. If the property comes into compliance prior to the public hearing then the case would be closed, and in accordance with the District’s adopted rule, staff would again need to receive another complaint to re-visit the property.
9. Would you please explain The Villages policy for displaying political signs and flags?
Carrie Duckett: Depending on the District in which you reside, the Declaration of Restrictions provides different regulations on the placement and content of signage. Residents should contact Community Standards at 352-751-3912 for information specific to their District / Unit.
The content of flags is not regulated by the District. While flag poles must be approved by the Architectural Review Committee (ARC) prior to installation, the content on the flag is not regulated or addressed by Community Standards.
10. Can an aero fountain be placed in the retention pond off Rio Grande near the 9th hole of the golf course near Vista Court?
Carrie Duckett: A fountain cannot be placed in the retention pond as this is an irrigation pond with fluctuating water levels.
11. Are there plans to provide bus transportation within The Villages to allow residents who do not drive to access the town squares, recreation centers and medical centers?
Carrie Duckett: The counties provide Paratransit service for those customers that meet the need-based criteria. There is, of course, private carriers such as Uber, Lyft, taxis, etc., and The Villages are designed as a golf cart community. In Sumter County, the ridership was so very low (less than a half dozen passengers a day) that the fixed route transit service was discontinued. The existing golf cart infrastructure to shops, services, and facilities, along with the formal and informal neighbor-to-neighbor assistance, plus the suburban nature of The Villages offer ample opportunity for travel, thereby making traditional urban fixed- route transit rarely utilized.
12. Residents south of SR 44 can rent golf carts to play Executive golf. Is there a way for residents north of SR 44 to rent golf carts to play on the Executive golf courses?
Carrie Duckett: You may rent golf carts from the Country Club Golf Shops that are associated with the Executive Golf Courses. This information can be found at www.golfthevillages.com . Click on Executive Golf, scroll to the bottom of the page and under Executive Golf Trail Information you will see Golf Car Rentals for use on the Executive Golf Trail.
13. Is fiber optic cable planned throughout The Villages?
Carrie Duckett: The District Government has no plans to compete with private sector and construct fiber optic within The Villages.
14. Are there plans on keeping flowers in the common areas?
Carrie Duckett: The District maintains the planting regime per existing construction plan as to when the District Government assumed control of the infrastructure. One District had a discussion as to a decrease in the number of flowers planted within its medians and entranceways. The decision was to remain status quo as to the planting of flowers as it keeps the environment the same as when residents purchased their homes.
15. Questions related to the solid waste management system include:
a. Can you please explain why the solid waste management system has increased costs?
Carrie Duckett: The cost of sanitation services increased due to:
(a) Long term solid waste plan introduced a single stream disposal to the waste-to-energy plant instead of utilizing the less expensive land fill disposal. In an effort to reduce the long haul transport to Georgia and be cognizant of the environment, a different disposal method was selected.
(b) As part of the plan, bond covenants had to be addressed to ensure NSCUDD was meeting all required debt coverages for their bonds.
(c) The same amount of tons of waste is still being picked up from customers and there is still transport to the waste-to-energy plant.
Carrie Duckett: According to Covanta, the facility in Lake County produced 14 megawatts of electricity 24/7; enough to power 8,100 homes a year.
c. Is the process still pollutant free?
Carrie Duckett: According to Covanta, the facility in Lake County operates up to 99% below federal emissions standards.
16. Are more restaurants planned for the areas south of SR 44?
Dr. Lester: Yes, since our last meeting, several restaurants have opened and several more have been announced. Willie Jewells BBQ and the China Buffet have both opened in Magnolia Plaza. The Reveille Cafe, McGrady’s Restaurant and Pub and McDonalds have all been announced. Stay tuned to the Daily Sun for openings and future announcements.
17. Why are Atomic cars that are advertised to go 33 mph allowed on the multi-modal paths and golf cart lanes?
Lt. Siemer: The issue is that the vehicles cannot be functionally operated above Florida Statute regulations for a golf cart. These Atomic cars function as golf carts and must be operated under these same statutes. Unfortunately, some golf carts are illegally operated above the statutory 20 mph limit and that is the real safety and operational issue.
18. There is a car regularly parked facing the wrong way on Yankee Clipper Run.
a. What is the policy of cars parked facing the wrong way?
Lt. Siemer: It is against the law to park facing the wrong direction on the street.
b. What can be done to resolve this issue?
Lt. Siemer: Contact the Sheriff’s Department to report this issue.
19. What are the vehicular laws for golf cart drivers who are:
a. talking on their cell phone while driving?
Lt. Siemer: Talking on a cell phone while driving is legal. It must be hands-free when in school zones or construction zones. It is a traffic violation if texting.
b. passing other golf carts on Morse Blvd north of CR 466 by driving out into the traffic lane?
Lt. Siemer: Yes, golf carts are allowed on roadways posted at 30 mph or less.
20. Many cars are seen speeding on Pinellas Place entering and exiting the resident gate by Pinellas Plaza. Would the Sheriff’s Department please provide a presence in this area to help control this issue?
Lt. Siemer: As soon as this question was received, a deputy was assigned to monitor this area.
21. Residents are concerned about residential and commercial vehicles exceeding the speed limits by 10-20+ mph especially on Morse Blvd and Buena Vista Blvd.
a. Would you please explain what is being done to address this issue?
Lt. Siemer: There are 5 zone units in The Villages that work traffic and 2 additional traffic units. We put up electronic speed signs and place unmanned patrol cars in the area. We move patrol cars every week to different locations to try to slow traffic down. Many citations are issued with the majority given to passenger cars.
b. Would you explain how residents can help?
Lt. Siemer: People may contact the Sheriff’s department to report problems in specific locations.
22. Is the Sheriff’s Department still providing a security walk-through to help residents learn how to keep their homes safe?
Lt. Siemer: This program was suspended due to Covid-19. The suspension is still on hold as cases continue to occur. The Sheriff’s department is looking forward to resuming this program at an appropriate time.
23. Why has Stillwater Trail between Morse Blvd and Buena Vista Blvd had only one lane resealed?
Bradley Arnold: Stillwater Trail between Morse Boulevard and Buena Vista Boulevard did not have the same reconstruction and resurfacing requirements (not resealing); therefore, it was not included in the current fiscal year and will be part of the road re-evaluated in 2022.
24. When will the streets Aloha Way and Vermont Avenue in the historic side be repaved?
Lake County representative: The county rates the roads 1-10. These two streets are rated 6. Generally, streets and roads are not scheduled for resurfacing until they deteriorate to a 4. Inspection of streets and roads is done once a year. Neither of these streets is scheduled for resurfacing this fiscal year.