How the Habitat Community Development District Works
By Mark Novitski, Chair, Habitat CDD
Typical of any government agency, the Habitat (Bella Terra) CDD is run by an elected board with staggered 4-year terms. Lee County Supervisor of Elections verifies those full time Estero residents running for a seat (the CDD has 5 seats). If the individual running for a specific seat is unopposed, they are elected/seated. If 2 or more candidates are running for a seat, they appear on the November ballot. The individual with the most votes is elected. Every 2 years, the board elects a Chair and Vice Chair.
The elected board must determine how the District will be managed: by employees of the District, or by contracted management of the District. The developer, who at that time controlled the 5 seats on the board, contracted with a CDD management company for the management of the District. The resident-elected Board of Supervisors hired a new management company on October 1, 2016 that was more in-sync with the resident board requirements for management.
Premiere District Management provides a District Manager, Field Manager, maintenance worker, support staff, official documentation, financials, and contracts support. These are not full time positions. The District Manager hires, at the direction of the board, legal counsel, engineering support, and an independent auditor.
For the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the District, the management team solicits proposals from vendors for the tasks required. Currently, we have annual maintenance contracts for: 6 irrigation pump stations, 2 irrigation wells, 25 miles of irrigation main lines, clock tower, clock tower fountains, weed control on 22 lakes (~ 400 acres), lake aeration, and 6 retention ponds area mowing.
The Field Manager and the resident Board of Supervisors monitor the effectiveness of these contracts and ensure they are performing the contracted functions. Most of our contracts have “30 day and out” clauses where if they are not performing we can terminate the contract. The board reviews the contracts annually before we renew.
The developer-controlled board signed an agreement with Florida Power and Light (FP&L) for the 111 street lights. The agreement is up for renewal in 2023 (every 5 years). This agreement is a contract and when a light is out, we report the information to FP&L and they place the request in their queue to fix. We are working with FP&L to change out some of the lights to LEDs and place shields on others.
A point of clarification – the Habitat CDD does not own or maintain the 6 sanitary sewer pumping stations or sewer lines. They are owned and maintained by Lee County Utilities. Their website is https://www.leegov.com/utilities Their e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org, and phone 239-533-8845.
All other maintenance, repair, or improvements are identified, prioritized, and voted-on by the board to undertake. Once approved by the board, the management company solicits proposals from various vendors/contractors. The bids are evaluated, and ranked before submission at a monthly board meeting. The Board then votes to select the vendor/contractor.
As required by any government agency, the Habitat CDD has emergency operations plans and vendors/contractors to perform required functions in the case of emergencies. Each year these plans are evaluated and updated as necessary.
To see the board in action, you can attend the Habitat CDD Monthly meetings, the 3rd Tuesday of Each month at 4 PM, at the Bella Terra Clubhouse on 20070 Bella Terra Blvd. in Estero, Florida. For more info visit our website: habitatcdd.com.