Requesting Ideas

By Roy Goyette

Well everyone, what do you think? Our inaugural issue of the Citrus Springs Villager hit your mailboxes last month. After countless hours of writing, designing and formatting by a talented group of folks we finally met one of the goals set by the Civic Association Board.

To keep the paper interesting and moving in the right direction, we need your assistance. If there are stories you wish to read, information you want to see, articles you wish to submit or If you have clear photographs of interest (people, places, groups or activities) taken within Citrus Springs, please send it in. Photos need to be sent in with a description (Names, places, event, date etc) as a JPEG attachment to [email protected].

We are also opening the paper to a Letters to the Editor section.

There are some basic rules; Letters can be NO more than 200 words long. Absolutely no comments will be accepted about Federal issues and politics or anyone involved. No letters accepted about State and County issues unless there is a direct correlation to Citrus Springs. No personal attacks. All letters subject to editing for length or appropriate language. There is no guarantee of publication.

Let’s keep the column clean, respectful, to the point and most of all to bring useful, innovative ideas to light.

Deed Restriction Complaints

Deed Restrictions 2
By Mike Cooper

As was discussed in the July Villager, Citrus Springs is a deed restricted community. That is, every residential lot in the community is subject to a set of restrictions or limitations which run with the land and act to restrict the ways in which we can use our property and what we can place or store on our lots and where. These restrictions and limitations are designed to assure that the use of one person’s lot does not unreasonably affect the use and enjoyment of their neighbors’ property and does not thereby reduce the value of the neighbor’s property.
In a perfect world, all our neighbors would act responsibly, would maintain their property in a neat and sanitary manner, would not operate an auto junkyard in their front yard, would not store large commercial vehicles on the side of the road, would not…well, you get the picture. All of these activities and more which violate the deed restrictions have occurred, and many continue to occur in various locations in the community, despite our best efforts to stop them.
In every case these violations have a severe negative impact on the adjoining and nearby properties. Even the owners of vacant lots are impacted. Many of these violations render the sale of nearby vacant lots impossible thereby reducing their value to zero. The worst of the violators can have the same effect on nearby lots with homes. The impact of a nearby property that is a shambles of overgrown vegetation, trash and junk strewn around the yard, unregistered vehicles sitting on cement blocks in the driveway, etc. can cut the value of nearby homes in half or more and cause them to sit on the market unsold for months, if not years.
The Citrus Springs Civic Association has been the primary agency for the enforcement of the deed restriction in this community since accepting that authority from the Deltona Corporation in 1995. Many of the violations of our deed restriction are also violations of various County Laws as well. Many of these are under the jurisdiction of the Office of Code Compliance. Though woefully understaffed since the fiscal crisis caused drastic budget cuts, they have in many cases been very helpful when called. In other cases, not so much. The Association for the last eight or nine years has had one heroic volunteer in charge of deed restriction enforcement, Board of Directors Member, Paul Noblitt. And does he have some stories to tell.
Paul gets complaints almost on a daily basis from citizens who believe their neighbors are in violation of the deed restrictions. He inspects the properties and if he finds a violation that is also a County Code violation he will contact the Code Compliance office to report the violation. If he finds a deed restriction violation which is not a County violation, he will speak with the property owner and seek voluntary compliance which in many cases is readily forthcoming. If voluntary compliance is not forthcoming, the matter is brought before the CSCA Board of Directors for enforcement which involves written notice of violation with a specified time frame for correction, and ultimately legal action, the costs of which, if successful, are assessed against the violator and may be enforced through the filing of a lien against the property, which may ultimately be enforced by foreclosure and sale of the property.
In the next edition, I’ll discuss why this cumbersome and hugely expensive system has largely failed and needs to be changed.

Deed Restrictions

CITRUS SPRINGS IS A DEED RESTRICTED COMMUNITY

What does this mean for you and your property? Deed restrictions or covenants, as they are sometimes called, are legal limits on the ways in which one can use his or her real property. Restrictions, applying to all residential properties in Citrus Springs, were put in place by the Deltona Corporation, the original subdivider / developer of the Citrus Springs subdivision. The original restrictions were recorded in the Citrus County Public Records in conjunction with the approvals for each of the 27 Subdivision Units or sections as laid out on the Plats approved by the County in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Because these deed restrictions are recorded in the Public Records the law considers that recording to be adequate legal notice to future purchasers that the property they are buying is subject to those restrictions.
Many new residents have indicated that they were totally unaware that the property they bought in Citrus Springs is subject to any deed restrictions. “No one told us”, they say. Your realtor and your title company should have pointed out the existence of deed restrictions, and every stone pillar at the entrances to Citrus Springs has the words “A Deed Restricted Community”, though no longer very easy to read. Regardless, actual notice is not required in order to make the restrictions enforceable, recording in the Public Records gives them legal status.
Nearly all substantial subdivisions in Florida and around the country are made subject to deed restrictions of some nature. Some are extremely restrictive, others like those in Citrus Springs are less so, but still substantially limit the use of our property.
Why are these restrictions put in place? What purpose are they intended to serve? Quite simply, to protect and enhance your property value; to assure to you the quiet enjoyment of your home; to enhance the quality of life throughout the community; and to prevent the accumulation of trash, junk, noxious or poisonous substances, or conditions which could be dangerous, attract vermin, adversely effect your health and the environment generally.

Since 1995 the Citrus Springs Civic Association has been the entity legally authorized to enforce the provisions of the deed restrictions having accepted an assignment of that authority from the Deltona Corporation. Individuals adversely effected by deed restriction violations by their neighbors also can bring suit to ask a court to order compliance.
For several years the Civic Association has published and made available a summary of the deed restrictions in booklet form to inform residents of what is allowed and what is not allowed on residential properties in Citrus Springs. This booklet is available at the Community Center.

The following is a very brief synopsis of the current residential deed restriction provisions as set forth in the booklet:
1. Only one single family dwelling per lot, no more than 2 stories high with minimum 1 car garage or carport under the main roof. One shed allowed on small lots at the rear of the property. 2 sheds allowed if lot over 1/2 acre in size. 5 foot setback for sheds.
2. Setbacks 25 feet in front, greater of 7.5 feet or 10% of the lot width on the sides and 25 feet to the rear lot line, except a swimming pool enclosure may be 15 feet from the rear line. Waterfront lots and lots in Unit 12 have larger setbacks.
3. Minimum square footage requirements are established for various locations and lots ranging from 1000 sq. ft. to 1800 sq. ft.
4. No noxious or offensive trade is allowed. May not reside permanently or temporarily in any tent, trailer, RV, garage, shed, barn, or other outbuilding. Signs are limited in size and number. No mining or drilling. No animals, livestock, poultry of any kind other than household pets such as dogs or cats are allowed. No commercial breeders or kennels are allowed. No dumping of rubbish, trash, garbage or other waste. All household waste shall be disposed of offsite regularly and when stored on site must be kept in clean sanitary containers. No large trucks or recreational vehicles, tractors, campers, travel trailers or boats may be parked on any street, street right of way or on any lot in Citrus Springs, unless previously approved by the Architectural Review Committee and kept behind the home and screened from view. Fences up to 6 feet high are allowed in back yards not to extend closer to the street than the rear property line.
5. No private wells for drinking water. OK for irrigation, pools etc.
6. No fence or shrubs which obstruct sight line of roadways.
7. No changing elevation which causes drainage problem for neighboring lots or roads.
8. All buildings, structures, swimming pools, fences, sheds, including temporary and movable structures may not be placed on any lot until first approved by the Architectural Review Committee. Plans for the proposed building or structure must be submitted and reviewed and approval granted before placement on the lot. No manufactured, mobile or pre-fab homes are allowed. All new homes must be compatible with existing homes in the area.
9. Provisions for Amendment are provided.
10. Remedies for violation include the right to bring suit against the violator, with the violator to pay all legal and administrative costs which may be enforced through the placement of a lien on the property which could result in the foreclosure of and sale of the property.

In future articles, we will discuss these provisions in more detail and will discuss proposals to amend and clarify the deed restrictions.

Civic Association

The Presidents Pen

by Mike Cooper

In last month’s inaugural edition of the Citrus Springs Villager, I outlined a little bit of the history of the Citrus Springs Civic Association (CSCA), and highlighted a few of the events and activities we have brought to the community and some which are planned for the future. I want today to emphasize that this organization exists to serve all of the citizens and property owners of Citrus Springs. Pursuant to the original bylaws of the association adopted in 1976 the purposes of the CSCA were then and remain today as follows:
1. To promote the general welfare of the residents of Citrus Springs and to act in their behalf whenever feasible and appropriate.
2. To provide a public forum wherein residents may discuss matters of mutual interest and concern.
3. To facilitate the initiation and implementation of necessary or desirable community services and activities.
4. To provide for recognized official liaison and communication with officials of state and county government and with the Deltona Corporation or its successor.
5. To provide a means by which community organizations may cooperate and coordinate their activities.
Our goal is to help to make this a closer-knit community, where folks feel like they belong and feel that this is our shared home town.
Throughout most of the history of Citrus Springs there have been large numbers of people who actively participated in numerous community events and who also belonged to some of the more than 30 social and philanthropic organizations based here. In 2000 there were more than 800 members of the CSCA at a time when the population was much less than what it is now. Dozens of people volunteered their time and talents to help out at the many Association activities, dinners, theater productions, concerts, parades, numerous annual youth events, the list goes on and on. By all accounts folks had a ball getting to know and to like their neighbors by working together to help others and to make their community a better place to live. They were proud to call Citrus Springs their home and with good reason. The officers and Directors of the CSCA share that pride and enthusiasm for this community and our hope is that you will as well.
It is one of the greatest ironies of this so-called information age that with the explosion of nearly universal and astoundingly powerful tools of communication we are becoming more isolated and separated from our fellow citizens and neighbors. With the most amazing capacity to reach out and interact with people, to establish meaningful and beneficial relationships, we are becoming a nation of technology hermits, spending more time with our machines than with our human friends and neighbors, and becoming more and more isolated from human interaction.
Like most of you, who like me are baby boomers or a maybe a little beyond, I grew up in a neighborhood where everyone knew their neighbors, where people watched out for each other, where community projects drew almost everyone out to help. We had roots in that town, it meant something to us to be from there. It was a small, hole in the wall place, but it was our place and what made it special was the shared common experience of being a part of that place and time with our friends and neighbors. We never felt alone, isolated or anonymous.
I believe we can recapture that small-town sense of belonging and a shared sense of community spirit by getting out and getting to know one another. Our association can be the catalyst to make that possible.

Location, Location, Location

Real Estate Roundup 2
By, Mike Cooper

Real Estate is all about Location
What are the three most important factors affecting the value of real estate? As everyone knows they are location, location and location. But what is it about the location that makes it so important? We are going to explore that in this month’s article by looking at the factors affecting the value of properties here in various locations in Citrus Springs. We begin by recognizing that every piece of real property is unique, no two are exactly the same. This is recognized in the common law of England and this country which gets much of its law, especially property law from old English laws and customs.
While it is theoretically possible to build an exact replica of a home inside and out, and all accessory structures right down to the color scheme. This is extremely rare and there are always slight variations in the land, its topography, its vegetative cover, the view of and from the property, the proximity, condition of and impact of the subject property and other nearby properties and myriad other factors which can impact the desirability of a home, sometimes in subtle ways, but which in combination can make one quite similar home more or less appealing and therefore worth more or less than another. These factors need to be considered in determining the fair market value of each property, and can be an element of what is generally called “curb appeal” and relate to the immediate proximity of the subject property.
Location also relates to what Continent you are on. North America and Europe generally have higher incomes and more demand for single family homes and so higher values. The Country one is in also makes a difference. Incomes and demand and therefore prices are higher in the United States than in Mexico for example. One’s State also makes a big difference. The median home price in the West is $378,100, in the Northeast $296,300, in the South $231,300 and in the Midwest $213,000.
One’s County may also be a significant factor. Prices of comparable homes in Citrus County are significantly cheaper than in Hillsborough, and most counties in South Florida. The City, Town, Village, Community or Subdivision one is in also has a huge impact on the price of comparable properties. A comparable home in the Black Diamond gated community will generally sell for more than one in most parts of Beverly Hills, Homosassa, and Citrus Springs. Though in some parts of these communities those differences are diminishing as these communities continue to recover from the impacts of the housing market crash and the number of distressed, abandoned and unkempt properties are drastically reduced. Which brings us to the location factors which have the most immediate impact on the value of our homes here in Citrus Springs.
I mentioned above some of the what I call “curb appeal” factors which can affect the buyer’s initial impression of the property and its desirability. While some of these may have a minor impact on value in and of themselves, it is a fact that many prospective buyers will drive by a home they identify online to check out the home’s curb appeal. They will also evaluate the condition, size, tidiness and overall appearance of other homes in the neighborhood. If the subject home is in poor condition or the homes in the neighborhood are not kept up, they are unlikely to purchase in that neighborhood. Fewer buyers willing to buy, translates directly into lower prices.
Next month we’ll look at specific things which impact sales values in separate areas of our community.

Real Estate Roundup

Real Estate Roundup

By, Mike Cooper

 

What’s up with this real estate market?
The short answer is: what’s up is the value of your home here in Citrus Springs. This article will discuss the facts of what is happening to the value of our homes, which is for most of us our most valuable single asset, and why it is happening. There has been an endless stream of hype about how hot the real estate market is, how homes are being sold within hours of coming on the market with multiple offers above the asking price. While this has happened in exceptional cases with unique properties such as those with open water frontage, in most cases even the exceptional properties must be priced at or, in some cases, below market value to generate that kind of interest from buyers. In most cases of quick sales with multiple bidders, the perception is that the property is offered at a bargain price. In fact, the average time it now takes from listing the property for sale to the signing of the sales contract is approximately 45 days and from listing to closing is 85 days. This is way down from 140 days on average in 2012, the start of the real estate turnaround, but for most homes, the sale does not happen overnight and on average for about 95% of the asking price.
This is deemed to be a seller’s market based on the lower number of homes on the market compared with this time last year. The general rule of thumb is that a neutral market, that is one which is neither a seller’s nor a buyer’s market, is one where the number of homes on the market is sufficient to provide a six months supply. In other words, it would take six months to sell the number of homes listed for sale. Citrus County, based on the most recent statistics as set forth in an excellent article by Michael D. Bates in the Home Front section of the Chronicle of June 4, 2017, is at a historically low homes-for-sale inventory with only a 4.2 months supply. New listings in April were down 9.1% from one year ago and a total number of listings is down 13.5%. This reduced inventory is the supply side of the immutable law of supply and demand. It applies with equal strength in Citrus Springs.
The demand side of the equation has increased due to continued immigration. More and more folks are finding out what a true paradise we have here on the nature coast and are moving here in droves to share in it. In addition, continued historically low-interest rates have allowed many more families to qualify for home financing. Baby boomers have in huge numbers reached that magic age where shoveling snow and ice has ceased to be an attractive way to spend a day outside in a biting cold gale. Continued relaxation of some of the most strict finance requirements is also making home ownership viable for more people with less than perfect credit. Despite the reduced number of homes for sale down 13.5% from April last year, the number of home sales continues to increase, up 3%.
The end result of reduced supply and growing demand is that the median sales price in Citrus County has risen to $138,825, which means that half of all homes sold for less and half sold for more. This translates to an average increase in value of 5.2%. A tidy increase in equity of $7,800 for the owner of a $150,000 home.
Real estate markets tend to be very localized in nature. What is true for properties in Citrus Hills may not be applicable to properties in Citrus Springs. And what may be the case in one section of Citrus Springs may not apply to another. Citrus Springs is a very diverse community with homes for sale for more than $600,000 and homes for sale for $60,000. Next month I will explore how all of these market factors have specifically impacted the values in the various neighborhoods within our community, including the impact of the new home building boom with over 70 new home permits in Citrus Springs already in 2017. In future articles, I hope to explore how the fair market value of property is established; what improvements actually increase your home’s value more than the cost of the improvement; how to maximize the sale price of your home when you are ready to sell.

Michael Cooper is a licensed realtor with Century 21 JW Morton Real Estate, Inc. He practiced real estate and municipal law in Maine for over 35 years, including owning and operating a title services company for 25 years, retiring in 2011 he resettled in Citrus Springs where he has been active in the community as Chair of the Future of Citrus Springs Committee in 2015 and as President of the Citrus Springs Civic Association since 2016.

Are We There Yet?


The answer is YES.

The Citrus Springs Civic Association Board of Directors has been working diligently to find ways to reach the many property owners and residents of our great community. We have dramatically increased our use of email and Facebook notices over the past year, however, our efforts at being able to reach all residents have been much less than desired, until now. This fabulous new website is part of a comprensive effort designed to keep everyone in Citrus Springs informed and updated.

We are also proud to announce that we will be publishing  our own community newspaper, the “Citrus Springs Villager”. This new monthly paper will be delivered by mail to every active mailbox within the boundaries of Citrus Springs. Both the website and the newspaper will be kept loaded with great and timely information about our town. You will find an updated calendar of events each month, special reports on anything government wise pertaining to the town, notifications of all upcoming events, reports on past events and reports on anything else going on that may affect the community.

We will be reporting on all the many clubs, organizations, businesses and churches. You will be seeing reports from each of the Citrus Springs Directors, a message from the President and editorial content. Your letters to the editor will be considered for publication. Your ideas for stories, comments, suggestions are always welcome

Please let us know what you think by email, [email protected]

Citrus Springs Villager and new Website

As President of the Citrus Springs Civic Association (CSCA), I am thrilled to be able to welcome you to the Citrus Springs Villager, inaugural edition and the new Home page on the Citrus Springs web-site. Here you will find all the news of what is going on in our community, upcoming events, features on some of the many organizations and businesses who serve our citizens, county issues that impact us, and so much more. I invite you to let me know if you have ideas for articles, would like to contribute your own content or have information on a local organization you would like to share.

The CSCA has always been a part of the Citrus Springs Community; within the last few years, it has been given a make-over. Things have changed, and I ask you to give the CSCA a second look. You might be surprised at how hard we are working to make this a better, closer-knit community, to protect and enhance the quality of life we enjoy here and in so doing to increase the value of all our homes. Over the next several issues I will explain in some detail what the CSCA is, what it has accomplished so far and our plans for continuing to improve our community.

One important point of communication found in the Citrus Springs Villager is the calendar of events just for Citrus Springs. Join your friends and neighbors in celebrating our hometown by attending some of these events. Many are free and all are affordable. You’ll get out, have a wonderful time and support your community as well.

Our most recent event was our Red, White and Blue 4th of July dinner held on July 3rd at the Citrus Springs Community Center. The meal was delicious with baked ziti and meatballs, salad, bread, ice cream and strawberry shortcake for dessert. An entertaining and informative rendition of the founding document formerly declaring our right to independence from Great Britain was enjoyed by all as was the awarding of multiple door prizes and the 50-50 raffle.

For today I want to give you a brief overview of the history of the CSCA and some of the things your civic association has been doing for the community over the last couple of years.

The Citrus Springs subdivision with over 33,000 lots, approximately 420 miles of roadways, beautifully laid out on more than 15,000 acres by the Mackle brothers was approved in the late 1960’s. The 50th anniversary of this community is coming up soon and will be celebrated in March of 2020. The Mackle family turned the project over to the Deltona Corporation early in its development. Then the subdivision was approved as a Planned Unit Development with residential lots, commercial lots, church parcels, parks, schools, and everything that a self-contained community would need. Deltona marketed the residential lots to people all over the world. Currently, there are approximately 4,500 homes in Citrus Springs with an estimated 9,000 residents and more than 25,000 vacant residential lots. There are approximately 400 commercial parcels with most located on both sides of North Citrus Springs Blvd., and others along Deltona Blvd. There are a number of duplex and multi-family lots located east of Deltona Blvd. Initially there were two excellent 18-hole golf courses until the unfortunate closing of the El Diablo course.

The CSCA was incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation by filing Articles of Incorporation with the Florida Secretary of State on January 13, 1976. A Constitution and Bylaws were adopted to govern the operation of the Association and, as amended by the members from time to time over the years, they remain today as the framework for the governance of the CSCA.

On November 8, 1995, the Deltona Corporation assigned the legal authority to enforce the Deed Restrictions applicable to all of the residential lots in the subdivision to the CSCA. Deed restrictions will be covered in an upcoming edition of the Citrus Springs Villager.

The CSCA has played an important role in fostering a sense of camaraderie and community pride in Citrus Springs helping to make this a place we can be proud to call our hometown. The level of interest, citizen involvement and commitment has varied from time to time, but the current Board of Directors has made a commitment to reinvigorating the CSCA and reawakening the sense of pride in and of belonging to this community. Over the last two years, the Association has undertaken a multitude of projects, activities and events with the goal of uniting our community, protecting our investments and giving our community a voice within the local governmental organizations.

These activities include among others:

  1. The Future of Citrus Springs Committee Report, delivered on Dec. 2015, discussing issues important to the community including fire and police services, the county’s failure to provide proper road repaving, firearms use in built up residential areas, the Citrus Springs M.S.B.U. (Municipal Services Benefit Unit), County taxation vs services received, Association fund raising options and possible incorporation of Citrus Springs as a City.
  2. 2016 Membership Drive which doubled our association membership.
  3. Fundraising activities including our very successful and growing Bingo the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month, and events such as the community indoor yard sales, craft fairs, casino trips and others.
  4. Creation of community events such as: dinners, festivals, parades, and year round activities. See the schedules of events elsewhere in this edition of the Villager.
  5. We have regularly spoken out to the Board of County Commissioners on issues of particular concern to Citrus Springs. For example, we successfully defeated a proposal for a discriminatory and excessive tax proposed to be assessed against Citrus Springs property owners for road repairs. At the same time we have established an excellent working relationship with the County Parks and Recreation Department allowing us extensive access to and no cost use of the Community Center for our meetings and events.
  6. Communication to our residents. We are creating a new website and an upgraded phone system that will forward all incoming messages to the intended recipient’s email which we believe will eliminate the frustrating problem we have had of inadequate and constantly full voicemail boxes, plus it saves us hundreds of dollars per year.

The Citrus Springs Civic Association is served by nine volunteer member Board of Directors who are elected by members of the CSCA and by a small group of dedicated volunteers all of whom give of their time, skills and varied expertise for the sole purpose of benefiting our community. We ask for your support, check out our website as it rolls out, come to one of our meetings and some of our events, have a cup of coffee or an iced tea with us, get to know your neighbors, meet some old friends and make some new ones. If you agree that what we are doing is worthwhile and good for the community consider joining the Civic Association, it’s only $15 per year for the whole household. If you can contribute a few hours of your time occasionally to benefit your friends and neighbors we could sure use your help.