To the Editor:
The demolition of the Hacienda Hills Country Club and its imminent replacement with apartments has been a hotly contested topic.
Marty Dzuro, vice president of The Villages, during the five-hour commission meeting last October, promised the residents of Sumter County that they would have input into the new plans for this site:
“To make that point very clear and also to demonstrate our continued sense of collaboration with our residents in Sumter County, we want to make a further commitment. We want to make this commitment to this board and the new commissioners who will be taking office next month. Should these DRI changes be approved, that we’re here tonight requesting, that will enable us to intelligently start designing plans for that site, we will commit tonight that we will work with county staff to facilitate a meeting with you residents to give you the opportunity to review those plans, to comment on those plans, and tell us what you don’t want and what you don’t like before that plan goes back to the county for their review.”
However, during that same meeting, Stephen Printz, the outgoing commission chairman, commented:
“I also believe the site plan review should be part of that proposal but limited to in my view, only those residents that have been noticed, the residents within a 500 ft radius. … I am proposing that we move forward with the restrictions as presented, four of them in addition adding the site plan being reviewed by noticed residents.”
Marty’s promise was made to a packed audience 2 hours and 20 minutes into the meeting. Printz’s denial of access occurred a full three hours later, after five hours and 20 minutes of heated debate. This proposal was NOT put up for discussion and I do not believe that most of the residents realized that this commissioner – who had been voted out of office and had only weeks left to serve – had just taken their rights away.
But Marty’s commitment was made NOT only to the outgoing but also to the new incoming commissioners – i.e., our current commissioners.
Where do they stand on this issue? Silent. Only one of the five commissioners has responded to my earlier letter asking for meeting access for all Sumter County residents.
And while County Administrator, Bradley Arnold, did reply, he merely stated “It was due to the actions of the Board, based on the Chairman’s comments, that the affected property owners have the opportunity to review the site plan” and that “The Board did not provide any additional requirements.”
To make matters worse, Arnold has condensed Marty’s promised meeting to “an input form for each of those property owners to submit for both the applicant and staff to review”.
Requests for remote or virtual attendance have also been denied –
Staff will take a picture of the Hacienda Hills Display of the Site Plan submitted at the start of the open house staff meeting at 3:00 p.m. and email the photo and a comment form to you. This input period will commence at 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. If you prefer this option, we will use the email you submit for our use. You can email your completed form to me by 5:01 p.m. that day for staff and the applicant to consider the staff approval process.
And is it just a coincidence this meeting has been scheduled for August when so many residents are out of town?
So, I ask again – does the Sumter County Commission represent its constituents or the Developer?
Village of Hacienda South