COURTESY : St. Petersburg Times
WESLEY CHAPEL - When Demetrius Greene returned from serving his country in Iraq last year, he was happy to be back in the United States, away from community strife.
But lately, the soldier has seen a neighborhood rift, right in his back yard in Meadow Pointe.
His kids Asha, 13, and Ashton, 9, were headed over to use the Meadow Pointe II clubhouse a few weeks ago, but they weren't let in the door. The kids didn't really understand why, and it turns out, neither do most Meadow Pointe residents.
From the outside, Meadow Pointe looks like one big community. But the area is actually four distinct community development districts - governing boards originally created by developers. They can levy taxes for infrastructure needs and oversee community issues.
The districts are responsible for the clubhouses and pools each area has, and for years have had agreements where residents could go to any facility they wanted. The agreements were signed when the developers still controlled the boards, but residents were elected as the population grew. That's when the conflict crept in.
The latest example is when Meadow Pointe II built a new fitness room. It started demanding IDs for admission and wouldn't allow residents from Meadow Pointe I, said Dennis Smith, district representative from Meadow Pointe I.
Smith said that rather than argue about the issue, his board would just cancel their 10-year reciprocal use agreement, which is to end in March.
Meadow Pointe I's chairwoman, Patricia Asklar, sent over a written notice to Meadow Pointe II's leadership.
That notification was reprinted in Meadow Pointe II's January newsletter, along with a note that said because of Meadow Pointe I's decision, those residents were no longer allowed in any of Meadow Pointe II's facilities.
A group of about 15 angry residents gathered Thursday night during a joint meeting of the two groups to complain.
Some residents of Meadow Pointe II were upset they could no longer use the lap pool in Meadow Pointe I. Most didn't understand how the decision was made in the first place.
Gerald Lynn, the chairman of the Meadow Pointe II CDD, defended the original decision, saying that the new fitness center could not hold more visitors than those who live in his district.
He would not comment further when contacted Friday, other than to say the matter would be discussed at the next district meeting.
Sandra Minieri, 64, said the matter has devolved into a power struggle between the two districts, with residents suffering.
"It cured me from moving into these developments," said Minieri, who moved to Meadow Pointe II from California two and a half years ago. "You have a few people making decisions for thousands of people, and I don't know who they answer to." They answer to the residents, who vote on district board members as part of general elections.
Smith thinks part of the problem is that builders and Realtors perpetuate the notion that any resident of the area - which now stretches nearly nine miles - has access to everything under the umbrella of Meadow Pointe.
He's not opposed though, to working out a new agreement - if everything is on the table.
"If there is an agreement that treats everyone the same, I would vote for it in a minute," he said.