The Trojan CDD

 “Dreadful, O Queen, is the woe thou bidst me recall, how the Grecians pitiably overthrew the wealth and lordship of Troy; and I myself saw these things in all their horror, and I bore great part in them. What Myrmidon or Dolopian, or soldier of stern Ulysses, could in such a tale restrain his tears! and now night falls dewy from the steep of heaven, and the setting stars counsel to slumber. Yet if thy desire be such to know our calamities, and briefly to hear Troy’s last agony, though my spirit shudders at the remembrance and recoils in pain, I will essay.

“Broken in war and beaten back by fate, and so many years now slid away, the Grecian captains build by Pallas’ divine craft a horse of mountainous build, ribbed with sawn fir; they feign it vowed for their return, and this rumour goes about. Within the blind sides they stealthily imprison chosen men picked out one by one, and fill the vast cavern of its womb full with armed soldiery” ……… “Ah, wretched citizens, what height of madness is this? Believe you the foe is gone? or think you any Grecian gift is free of treachery?……..” some delusion lurks there: trust not the horse, O Trojans. Be it what it may, I fear the Grecians even when they offer gifts”……….” All cry out that the image must be drawn to its home and supplication made to her deity” ……

“When the royal galley ran out a flame, and, protected by the gods’ malign decrees, Sinon stealthily lets loose the imprisoned Grecians from their barriers of pine; the horse opens and restores them to the air; and joyfully issuing from the hollow wood, Thessander and Sthenelus the captains, and terrible Ulysses, slide down the dangling rope, with Acamas and Thoas and Neoptolemus son of Peleus, and Machaon first of all, and Menelaus, and Epeues himself the artificer of the treachery. They sweep down the city buried in drunken sleep; the watchmen are cut down, and at the open gates they welcome all their comrades, and unite their confederate bands” ……

(Fragments of The Aeneid of Virgil – Book Second: THE STORY OF THE SACK OF TROY)

 

“Beware of Greeks bearing gifts” says an adage.

The Woodlands residents are being encouraged to open its doors to a Community Development District as a tool for infilling 525 homes in the golf courses and investing 15 million dollars in gates, club house amenities, trails, lakes and water/sewer/storm-water management infrastructure whilst levying capital assessments of upfront improvements only to the new homes.

Conversely, the yearly operation and maintenance assessments to maintain the facilities of the community and administer the district will be levied to all the homes.

So, is this 15-million-dollar gift “free of treachery?” Are there threats hidden in the CDD’s belly?

  1. Community Development Districts (CDDs) levy special assessments on the land owners for the services provided (construction, operation and maintenance), shifting all the financial burden from the developer to the homeowners in the district.
  2. The CDD’s assessments are in addition to county and other governmental taxes and are added to the homeowner’s tax bill.
  3. To finance projects within the district the CDD is authorized to issue tax exempt bonds that are imposed on each homeowner and grants the right to foreclose on the property and resell it at public auction superseding any first mortgage claim.
  4. Florida law doesn’t require the developer to voluntarily inform the homeowners that they can lose their home if they don’t pay.
  5. The CDD is governed by a Board of five Supervisors and includes a secretary, a treasurer and professional team consisting of a District Manager, District Attorney and District Engineer all in the payroll.
  6. Supervisors are initially elected based on a one-acre owned is one-vote basis and after six years the ability to elect the Supervisors transitions to one-resident is one-vote basis.
  7. The operations and maintenance assessment can change each year based on the level of services, the debt issuance decisions and costs associated with the operations of the district.
  8. CDD elections are independent of general elections, so homeowners in a CDD pay costs of both.
  9. Although the homeowners in a CDD pay for any road improvement, the county grants impact fee credits to the developer.
  10. For the homeowners in a CDD, it represents an additional municipal government to be monitored.
  11. When the home is sold the second time the seller is not required to disclose that it is part of a CDD.
  12. The CDD isn’t accountable for its actions, by the rules the homeowners are. However, during the first six years (and often for longer) the homeowners have no authority, control or insights in its operations.
  13. Under Florida law, oversight of CDDs is slight. They must send their annual budgets to the local governing authorities. But those governments can only review the budgets and have no power over the districts.
  14. The homeowners are responsible for paying off all financial losses racked up by their CDD over the years.
  15. When the homeowners in a CDD acquire enough property to control over 50% of the votes they will be able to outvote the supervisors selected by the developer.
  16. At any time, while still in control of the governing board, the developer can instruct the CDD supervisors to take debt to purchase the remaining property buying themselves out at the highest possible price because the board also owns the appraisal process.
  17. Only in Florida the CDD format issued over 6.5 billion of dollars in bonds, of which 5.1 billion are in default, 30% of the projects have not yet completed its infrastructure build and 5% are flirting with default. All of this caused by the common ups and downs in the real estate market, and a legislation with no safeguards against the abuse in issuing bonds driven by developers and underwriters.

My personal choice is that I don’t want to be a vassal of a tyrannical association in which a corporation can take debt and speculate with the right to foreclose on my property at their own discretion. I don’t want to break the most beautiful, active and living ecosystem for a few gates, amenities and fear of the closure of the golf courses. Opening the door to the CDD skyrockets the likelihood of bankruptcy within the families of our community. Why would we risk being stranded with debt for a bunch of expensive houses that we know won’t sell and with unfinished projects? Why would we let a developer issue shares of our Paradise creating means to a takeover by the acquisition of most of the debt bonds?

If, in some way, any or all the original eight sections don’t join the CDD, then be prepared to be expelled. I believe that the developer doesn’t care much about this, because their main goal is to keep us quiet while they take total control of the golf courses adjacent to our homes. The Board of Supervisors of the CDD has the power to approve a fee for non-residents who wish to use its amenities and services, and to issue an annual pass. The fee is generally the amount of assessments paid by members of the CDD, and is often higher than the amount of such assessments. The developer made it apparent when they said in the meeting with Section 7: “If you do not want to join the new club house then you will continue using your old one, in no way will the new homes have or need access to yours”. It struck me then that he had already lifted a wall in his mind.

I also asked the developer during the meeting if they will walk away if most of The Woodlands rejects their proposal. Their response was that if they don’t acquire the golf courses some other developer less friendly will do it. When I insisted they confirmed that they won’t continue if the majority rejects their proposal.

Let’s all push back openly and request to our section representatives that a formal communication of our rejection be sent to 13th floor homes.

The community has much more leverage dealing with developers that risk their own money or must take a bank loan.

The community gains the most by preserving The Woodlands.

Let’s close the doors to the Trojan CDD.

 

2 Comments

  1. First an behalf of my wife and my self, thanks for the comments. When I first looked at what a CDD was it appeared to me that the new Section 9 would be the CDD. That is the Golf Course. I interpreted what I read to mean that where there were existing communities each owner would have to agree to be part of the CDD. The CDD concept was developed to help with the development of an area where there wasn’t the infrastructure. This is a noble concept but in this case 13th Floor is using it to shirk their responsibility. Whether I’m right or wrong in this assessment doesn’t make a difference. What your article states is that eventually we will have to pay and that could mean our houses and our way of life. Rightfully; you describe that there is another government agency that has power to tax us and impose rules with out our input. We bought in here with the expectation of having a Golf Course and that our property taxes were reasonable. With the CDD adding taxes this would create extreme (to put it mildly) financial hardship. I do agree with you that we must put up all the opposition to this development. 13th Floor is attempting to do the same in the Carolinas Club. I think that we have at least one method to preserve the Woodlands. That is before they can start any development the land will have to be rezoned for residential purposes. I believe this is one way we can work to preserve the green in Broward.

    Again thank you for the post, hopefully we can stop this type of development and educate the rest of the county to what is going on. By the way their assumptions that golf is in decline is a bunch of you know what.

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