COURTESY : Daily Commercial
Straw-ballot wording approved
over protests from Villagers
By Bill Koch
Published August 22, 2006
VILLAGES - Despite pleas by Villagers to make ballot wording clearer, the
Village Center Community Development District board approved a straw-ballot
proposal at an emergency meeting Monday.
If it gets on the November ballot and is passed by voters in The Villages, the
proposal would allow the formation of a special board, called an authority, that
would take over many of the functions of the Village Center Community
Development District board.
The VCCDD board has to have ballot wording approved first by county attorneys in
Marion, Lake and Sumter. The commissions in the three counties must approve the
wording by Sept. 5, the deadline to get it on the Nov. 7 ballot. The commissions
of Lake and Sumter, whose attorneys earlier had no objection to proposed ballot
wording, are scheduled to decide today. Marion's commission is expected to
decide Sept. 5.
If the referendum makes the ballot, voters will choose between two options.
Villagers were able to persuade the Village Center board to add wording to the
first option, which now reads: "1) I like the way Amenity Programs,
Facilities and Services are currently being provided by the Village Center
Community Development District and would prefer they continue to be operated as
they are now."
The other option reads: "2) I prefer to change the way that Amenity
Programs, Facilities and Services are being provided north of County Road 466 by
having Village Community Development Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, Lake County
(representing Villages areas which are located in Lady Lake and Lake County
which are not within a Community Development District), and Village Center
Community Development District, pursuant to an interlocal agreement, provide a
separate administrative entity to have operational and management control of
Amenity Programs, Facilities and Services."
Villagers at Monday's meeting argued that the longer and more legalistic wording
in option two complicates the issue.
Joe Gorman, president of the community's Property Owners' Association, said the
ballot vote won't accurately reflect the intent of voters, since few will
understand the wording.
"Why not take the opportunity to be as clear and concise as possible?"
he said. "Who the hell knows what an interlocal agreement is?"
But the less wordy option one also drew fire from some Villagers, who said it
doesn't go into enough detail.
Richard Lambrecht, board chairman of Village Community Development District 4 in
Marion County, and others had insisted option one include specific wording
noting that the developer, as the majority landowner in the commercial-based
Center District, chose Village Center board supervisors. Supervisors on that
board are employees, contractors or associates of the developer.
"It's going to help people understand," Lambrecht said. "Do what
the developer (in a May letter to the board) told you to do - give us a
Gary Moyer, a Village Center board supervisor and vice president of development
for The Villages, said they had few choices with their wording. The attorney for
Marion County had objected to the ballot's previous wording, saying it was not
"We have to work in a bigger environment than The Villages," Moyer
Moyer said the danger in changing the wording is that it may lose its legal
authority or color the argument to one side.
"This is consensus building, not advocacy," Moyer said. "It's
just that simple."
"Sir, you're being inflexible," Gorman responded. "Let's not
start with something that's defective from the start."
Moyer said state statutes prohibited the board from including the words
"developer," "residential" or "commercial" in the