LAKEWOOD RANCH — Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club residents live amongst each other, use the same roads, enter and exit through the same gates and represent the same community — Lakewood Ranch. So, their leaders naturally committed to working together seven months ago, when they began holding joint workshops.
The meetings between Lakewood Ranch Community Development Districts 2, 5 and 6 resulted in a collaborative decision March 20 when the boards separately voted to approve an inter-local agreement to share the cost of maintaining and operating the main gates at Balmoral Woods and Legacy boulevards — the two primary entryways into the country club.
“The gates will still operate the same,” said CDD 6 Supervisor Bob Burstein, who resigned as chairman March 16 because he said he felt threatened by opposition to the agreement. “The gates will go up and down and people will go in and out. The only difference people (in District 6) will see as a result of this agreement is a decrease in what they will pay to fund the gates.”
Currently, CDD 6 exclusively bears the cost of the Balmoral Woods Boulevard gate, while CDDs 2 and 5 share the cost of the Legacy Boulevard gate.
But after the agreement takes effect Oct. 1, the CDDs will share costs on an equivalent dwelling unit (EDU) basis.
CDD 6 will pay 20.27% of costs related to the gatehouses, while districts 2 and 5 will pay 35.70% and 44.03% , respectively.
The two-year agreement includes automatic renewals for successive two-year periods, unless the boards provide one-year notice of non-renewal.
Decisions on gate-related items now have to be approved by all three boards.
Based on the agreement, Town Hall’s Chief Financial Officer Steve Zielinski said CDD 6 will save $48,400 annually.
CDD 2’s costs will increase $21,700 annually, while CDD 5’s costs will increase $26,700 annually.
Homeowners opposed to the agreement said that by decreasing CDD 6’s financial stake in the Balmoral gate, it would cede authority to make decisions about it. They asked to delay a decision on the agreement to allow more time for discussion.
“The decision was a surprise,” said James Rogoze, secretary of the Country Club West Homeowners Association. “I find it difficult to understand why the board wouldn’t listen to what the residents want them to do.”
CDD 6 supervisors (except for Richard Williams, who was absent) said they believed the public had ample opportunities to express their concerns on the topic. Joint workshops between CDDs 2, 5 and 6 are open to the public and have been ongoing since August.
“I felt there was nothing more we could do,” said CDD 6 Supervisor Doug Ferry. “People have had plenty of opportunities to ask questions. We tried to answer the questions. In the end, we’re here to help the people and help Lakewood Ranch.”
CDD 6 supervisors said the joint public workshops will continue.
“The interactions (with CDDs 2 and 5) have been very positive,” CDD 6 Supervisor James Hill said. “I look forward to do more to improve the quality of life in Country Club Village.”
+ Bob Burstein
Bob Burstein, who served in the U.S. Navy Reserve for 16 years, began serving on the CDD 6 board in 2010, when it was developer controlled. In 2012, he was elected the first chairman of the resident-controlled CDD 6 board.
So when he resigned as chairman March 16 — but kept his position on the board — it resonated.
“I have been exposed to a lot of things in my life,” said Burstein, who said he resigned because he felt threatened by individuals opposing a cost-sharing agreement for the Legacy and Balmoral Woods boulevard gates.
“I felt, being in this position for almost four years, having the target pinned on me, somebody else should take that on as chairman,” Burstein said.
Burstein said he planned to consult CDD 6 attorney Andy Cohen about the alleged threats.
“It may be that I overreacted,” Burstein said. “It may just all go away.”
+ Kathleen Grant
Supervisor Kathleen Grant resigned immediately from her seat on the CDD 2 board via letter; she was not present at the meeting.
Grant has served on the CDD board since November 2011.
“She played an important role,” Supervisor Michael Finney said. “We will miss her.”
The board is now accepting resumes from residents in CDD 2 to fill the seat. The term of the seat will expire in November.
Candidates, who must be a legal resident of Florida and of CDD 2 and a registered voter in Manatee County, should submit their resumes to Lakewood Ranch Town Hall by 5 p.m. April 9.
Applicants will be interviewed and selected by CDD 2 board members. Resumes may be emailed, mailed or hand-delivered to:
Lakewood Ranch Town Hall
Attn: Jessica Mears, Clerk to the Boards
8175 Lakewood Ranch Blvd.
Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202
• District Engineer Mike Kennedy announced he will resign from his position at the end of the fiscal year. Kennedy said his firm, Stantec, has served the CDDs for many years. The firm has worked for CDD 1 for 20 years. Kennedy will step aside Sept. 3.
“It’s been a long time,” Kennedy said. “Like life in general, sometimes it’s better to make a change to get new ideas.”
The districts will go through the request-for-proposals process to hire a new engineer.
• A member of Congressman Vern Buchanan’s staff will travel to Lakewood Ranch Town Hall to meet with residents March 28.
Buchanan’s field representative, Gary Tibbetts, encourages residents to make appointments to meet with him from 10 a.m. to noon.
To make an appointment, call Tibbetts at 941- 747-9081.
• Supervisors authorized TECO Peoples Gas to install a gas line in Summerfield. The line will go through two properties in Summerfield. The homeowners will be notified.
CDD’s 2, 5 and 6:
• Board members decided they will not enhance police patrols in he Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club.
CDD 4 & 6:
• The boards both authorized Edwin Bulleit, of MBS Capital Markets, to begin the process of refinancing the districts’ bonds. Bulleit will bring bond-rating information to the boards at their next meetings.
Contact Josh Siegel at [email protected].