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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Naples News Article About Ave Maria Town Assessments

AveWatch is reporting on a fascinating article in yesterday's Naples News. The Ave Maria Stewardship Community District board (made up of 5 people elected by the Barron Collier developer and Ave Maria University) recently held a meeting where they announced to residents of Ave Maria Town that they must pay $1,287.47 per single-family home in assessments by November. Apparently, tensions were high at the meeting:
Town residents were notified in writing when they purchased their homes that the district existed and could assess them. But many said they were unaware of its presence until they received an assessment notice last month. .....

The defense of the district and the assessments were good enough for some residents, but not others.

Patrick Hanley, 65, came into the meeting not knowing anything about the board. He left with a sound understanding.

"I'm satisfied with the explanations," Hanley said.

Marielena Stuart, who declined to give her age, remained unconvinced. She pleaded for a reassessment based on current market conditions and maintained anything less would be against Florida assessment law. The lack of development has not produced the benefits to her property that the assessment had promised, she argued.
The Naples News also reports: "Slower than expected growth in the town - the town opened over a year late due to permitting delays and has sold only 13 percent of its projected homes through last month - did not increase the assessment for those living in town, district managers said."

One of the comments to the Naples News article is very interesting. Commenter "PeaceKeeper" on August 5, 2008 at 10:31 p.m. said the following:
I am a resident in Ave Maria. I have been very happy living here so far. I think it is wonderful being part of a town that is kept so nice and clean and has become one of the first communities to be safe-guarding the environment.

The only issue that I had was that this Non-Ad Valorem assessment came with short notice and these meeting which have been going on for 4 years were a mystery to most residents.

The problem here was a lack of communication between the board and the residents. I now have to come up with $1287.47 by November which is roughly $300 a month for the next 4 months. So do many of the other residents that are on fixed incomes or have large families. .....

I am still happy to be here and hope that the communication improves between the district board and the residents so they do not catch us off guard again.
This sounds exactly like past behavior of Monaghan entities: lack of communication, lack of transparency, and springing news on people without sufficient warning after people have made commitments. Sorry, Peacekeeper, but I wouldn't be so optimistic for the future. You should talk to the students and faculty of old Ave Maria College in Michigan and Ave Maria School of Law about their experiences.