LADY LAKE, Fla. — In the Villages, an overflow crowd showed up Monday night to protest apartments planned at Spanish Springs Town Square, and in a surprise move, Lady Lake city leaders denied a Villages’s developer rezoning request.

What You Need To Know

  • The properties where notices were posted include the LaReina building, former Katie Bell's

  • Some residents said they were not sure the change would benefit Villages residents

  • The town's lawmakers can accept or reject board's recommendation

The decision came after residents started noticing rezoning notices placed in four buildings in the town square  —  the La Reina building, the former Katie Bell's nightclub, and two restaurant buildings.

The Villages developer stated its intention is to convert at least one of the commercial buildings into apartments.

“So we're getting a little concerned that whatever they're doing is not gonna be advantageous to the people already living in the villages,” Villages resident Joe Duthie said.

The planning and zoning board's recommendation now goes to the town lawmakers, who can go against the recommendation and vote in favor of the Villages developer.

Before the meeting, Cindy and Michael Pilla of Lake County said they are thinking about moving to the Villages.

“We've been here several times to see shows at the Sharon Morse and just love the atmosphere,” Cindy Pilla said. “The entertainment outside, the live music, it just looks like a lot of fun.”

The Sharon Morse Performing Arts Center is currently closed because of the pandemic... and so is the outdoor nightly entertainment in the town square. The Rialto movie theater is also closed for renovations.

All those venues will reopen, but until the town’s lawmakers make a final decision, the fate of the locations with the rezoning notices remains unknown.

That could make a difference to the Pillas.

“If there's changes in restaurants that's fine, and changes in venues that's fine, but keep the square the way it is,” Michael Pilla said.

Added Cindy, ““That makes me sad. One of the reasons we come up here is for the entertainment and the restaurants, so I don't like to hear that.”