of The Villages News
By Meta Minton
Published December 16, 2018
Community Development District 4 supervisors have voted to
lay the groundwork to potentially file a lawsuit against the owners of
sinkhole-damaged homes in the Village of Calumet Grove.
This week, District officials and legal counsel were
incredulous when they were not even allowed to speak before a Marion County code
enforcement board which granted Frank and Jan Neumann an extension on their
uninhabitable home on McLawren Terrace. The extension allows the couple and
their attorney more time to do battle with their insurance company. The
extension will get them until the end of March, more than a year after the first
sinkholes forced them from their home.
As the Neumanns continue their fight, their former neighbors are left with a
public safety hazard and sinking property values. Some of those neighbors
attended the code enforcement hearing on Wednesday and were angry that they were
also denied the opportunity to speak.
District Counsel Valerie Fuchs laid out the options for the board, which
included a lawsuit against the homeowners and an appeal of the Marion County
code enforcement board’s decision. The appeal would appear to be futile, in
light of the icy reception earlier this week.
Sturdier barricades have been set up on McLawren Terrace
at the site of two homes uninhabitable since sinkholes opened up in
“I personally think we have to do something. It seems Marion
County was forgetting about this part of Marion County, which is absolutely
unacceptable,” said CDD 4 Supervisor Cliff Wiener. “This just can’t drag on any
His fellow supervisors agreed. “This is an extreme public
safety hazard,” said CDD 4 Supervisor Mark Hayes.
The board voted to spend up to $7,500 in additional legal fees in the
exploration of the possible lawsuit. This comes on top of a current legal tab of
nearly $7,000 already rung up in this case. The lawsuit could target both the
Neumanns and the owner of the home previously resided in by Doris Morrill.
The goal of the lawsuit would be to spur the homeowners into action to stabilize
the properties, make a decision about what is to be done and move on.
CDD 4 has $900,000 in pipe and intersection repairs on the horizon, with
$200,000 already spent on grout, Community Watch personnel and other
sinkhole-related expenses. Earlier this year, CDD 4 supervisors made the painful
decision to raise by 20 percent the maintenance assessment rates paid by