Testimony Text — Sumter County Board — Public Comment
Everglades Recreation Center, The Villages, FL. September 21, 2020. Text provided to reporters.
The Villages developer is proposing the addition of rental apartments in residential areas and the Squares. Except for one comment at the end, I will let others address residential areas.
I am addressing the town squares.
After we retired, we travelled the Eastern seaboard for over a month looking at retirement communities. We spent 3 days in the Marriott next to the Spanish Springs town square.
Five months later, we decided that The Villages was the best place we visited and bought a house, primarily because of the town squares. They are unique.
The squares are currently shutdown by the virus, but I expect them to eventually reopen as they were before.
The developer has done an excellent job designing and maintaining The Villages — highly professional. Their first rental apartments, the recently-completed Lofts at Brownwood, were well-planned to fit in with the community.
The developer has been publicly comparing The Lofts in the newspaper with the newly proposed apartments in the Sumter Landing and Spanish Springs town squares.
The Lofts were planned. The new proposal is an afterthought, based on what I’ve seen presented to the boards.
Everything I’ve seen the developer do has been high-quality, until this proposal.
The proposal, as presented, brings up a number of questions:
- Where will residents park their cars and golf carts without decreasing existing parking?
- What amenities, like swimming pools, would be included and where would they be located?
- Utilities impact?
- Any impact on the Square itself, restaurants and other businesses?
- How will it change access to the Square by other residents?
- Will there be any impact on county-provided services?
- What are the rules and restrictions for apartment residents?
- Are renters limited to seniors?
- What is the plan if they overbuild and all are not rented?
This proposal looks rushed. It lacks sufficient details about the impact on the Squares.
Request to the Board
I suggest that the Board disapprove the current proposal,
with the provision that they would reconsider
if the developer presents a more professional proposal
which includes an independent impact study.
As for Hacienda Hills: The developer’s proposition
to put apartments
in the middle of a single-family residential area
sets a precedent. Once one rec center is replaced by apartments, all rec centers can be replaced.
I suggest the Hacienda Hills proposal be rejected.