Residents in the Villages happy with new access gate; Outside community now boycotting



SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. - A controversy in the Villages of Country Club Hills that started with a block wall is now a fight over an access gate.

Over the summer, residents got angry when the developer put up a permanent wall to stop golf carts from traveling on a popular path into and out of the Villages.

Residents protested and the wall was eventually taken down, but a new gate is going up in its place, which will allow Village residents access with special key cards.

Now it's residents of a neighboring community who are unhappy, saying the gate is designed to keep them out of the Villages.

Richard Buck is convinced the gate is designed to keep out him and fellow residents of the neighboring Stonecrest community.

"Everybody I talked to in the area I live in are going to boycott," Buck said.

Shortly after the permanent wall went up in August, residents on both sides vandalized it with spray-paint, some saying they might even sneak in and tear it down overnight.

Now the new gate is going up, which is fine with Villages resident Bob Harvey, who said Stonecrest won't let him in.

"I've tried to get into Stonecrest and they've got a gate up there with golf carts, and they won't let us in," Harvey said.

Stonecrest residents can still drive their cars to Villages shops and restaurants, but some residents there said they plan to skip out on visiting the Villages.

"The traffic is heavy. The parking would be worse. It's just going to be a problem, so why bother?" said Buck.

Villages residents, however, said they aren't concerned.

"It doesn't make any difference to me. This is our property," said one resident who asked to not be identified.

The gate will be completed in a few days, officials said.