Lack of gated entrance agitates Country Meadows homebuyers

Article Courtesy of The HERALDTODAY


Published August 31, 2006

Several people who purchased homes in Country Meadows want to know why the gate they thought would give them added security will most likely be little more than decoration.

"They had advertised a gated community, and now I find out it won't be gated," Thanh Thai said.

Thai is scheduled to close on his home soon but has since found out the neighborhood will not be gated and that builders have dropped the price of homes substantially in response to dwindling sales.

"This is a very different time in the marketplace. Buyers that purchased in the peak of demand may have paid more," said Jim Reeder, president of Lennar's Sarasota/Manatee division.

The prices of homes in the community have dropped steeply since Thai put a 10 percent deposit down on the home.

He was buying the home as an investment partly due to the fact it was to be located in a gated community.

"If they don't give me my money back, they should give me a better deal," Thai said.

Lennar is not the developer of the community but rather one of two builders who purchased finished lots.

"We're going to work with the developer to see what kind of options we may have," Reeder said.

One of the problems with limiting access to the community with a gate is that in order to gain site approval, the streets that run through the neighborhood are public. Many residents of Mill Creek cut through the development as a quick way to get home.

Some home buyers want answers as to whether there is a way to fix the problem and eventually have the community gated.

"I can't give them an answer," Reeder said.

A representative for Medallion Homes said they told customers that the gates would not be operational because the gate wasn't in the deed restrictions and they did research and found the roads were public.

"You cannot gate a public road," said Stan Stephens, highway maintenance supervisor for Manatee County.

While it would not be impossible to make the road private, several things would have to happen to begin the lengthy process of privatization. The first step would be to have all the homeowners agree, Stephens said.

"Then it would have to go through the planning department and the Board of County Commissioners," he added.

If the roads were to become private, the county would no longer be responsible for any maintenance on them, including storm water management.

"The only county vehicles that would be authorized to enter would be emergency vehicles," Stephens said.