Residents continue to fight developer over Villages wall

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SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. —

Some residents in the Villages are not giving up their fight to have a controversial wall torn down.

After residents called the Channel 9 newsroom Monday to express anger over a wall that had been built in their community, cutting them off from local businesses, reporter Berndt Petersen met with protestors in the Villages of Country Club Hills subdivision.

Someone went as far as to spray-paint a message to the developer on the wall, but it was quickly painted over the next day.

One local physician tore down a fence so patients riding golf carts could get to his office, but workers quickly built a temporary barricade on The Villages property to keep carts from traveling off the designated paths.

"The doctor said we are not going to put it back up. This is our property," said Dawn Royals, office manager for the doctor.

Since Petersen's story aired, residents have been calling every day to keep Channel 9 updated on their latest troubles.

Residents accuse of the developer of trying to keep them from shopping at stores or visiting doctors' offices that are outside the Villages boundaries.

The controversial wall still stands, and some residents in the Villages said it's time to hire a lawyer.

"I would think they need a class-action suit against (Villages President Mark Morse) to take this wall down. Telling us where we can and can't shop, and the doctors we need to see," said Villages resident Steve Bales.

The wall was built last weekend, blocking a popular golf cart path in and out of the area.

On Monday there was a protest, and vandals were apparently angry with the community's developer, who is being blamed for putting it up.

Some merchants said the wall has hurt business.

Others have created their own right-of-way around the wall, but the Sumter County Sheriff stepped in. The Sheriff's Office rolled out a lighted sign, and deputies are ticketing anybody they catch driving a golf cart around the wall and along busy U.S.-441.

Petersen contacted the Villages corporate office on Monday but still has not received a response regarding the wall.

Some residents said it's simply about money and politics.

"You better believe it. I ran for politics. They're all crooks. I don't go for legalized criminals. That's what they are," said Bales.

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