SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. — Residents of The Villages are angry that a popular country club and pool were torn down recently to make way for a new construction project.

What You Need To Know

  • The Hacienda Hills Country Club and a pool were knocked down

  • The property used to include a restaurant, pro shop and bar, too

  • Zoning officials said they have not seen new plans for the site

Villages officials have not confirmed what the new project will be.

Tom Smith used to ride his scooter to nearby Hacienda Hills Country Club to use the pool before it was leveled along with the country club.

“I need several operations on my knee and my shoulders, and I use the pool for exercise,” The Villages resident Tom Smith said

The seven acres of land on which the country club and pool once stood is owned by the developer of The Villages. In the past, the property also included a restaurant, bar, and pro-shop. Residents had to pay a yearly fee to belong.

However, the property started to run into some problems. The restaurant got cited by health inspectors, and then the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Now, the developer wants to go in a new direction. At a recent meeting, representatives from The Villages said that one possibility is to replace the country club with a 55-and-over apartment building.

“They're selling out the dream of The Villages for the money,” resident Terry Endreshak said. “About the same time they decided to tear it down, they decided maybe they'll build some apartments. The whole thing is suspicious to me.”

Sumter County zoning officials said they have not received any plans from The Villages for future construction projects at the site. But they said The Villages's developers can do just about whatever they want with the property. They signed a Development Regional Impact agreement with the state of Florida 20 years ago, and an apartment building would fall within those guidelines, zoning officials said.

Now, without a pool for his therapy, Smith said he feels let down by The Villages. “They don't care anymore,” Smith said.