Dozier garage

Neighbors say Donald Dozier's new garage violates Sugarmill Woods deed restrictions, and that he's being helped by the county's interpretation of its own code.

Donald Dozier’s garage is causing quite the stir with his Sugarmill Woods neighbors.

Depending on who’s doing the speaking, the $49,000 18-by-38 foot garage is attached to the house. Or it’s not.

The distinction is big in Sugarmill because deed restrictions do not allow for detached garages.

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And while deed restrictions are normally private matters between owners of deed-restricted property and the associations that govern then, citizens instead are also blaming Citrus County government for issuing Dozier the wrong permit.

“I want the county to uphold their own standards,” resident Barbara Perreault said. “It’s an eyesore.”

Dozier said he’s done everything above board.

“I don’t care what people think,” he said.

The issue is one that combines a regulatory agency — the county — and deed restrictions, which the county has nothing to do with.

According to interviews and public records, this is what happened:

Dozier, a member of the Cypress Village Property Owners Association board of directors, applied for a building permit for a garage. His notice of commencement, which formally begins the construction process, was filed with the clerk of court on Oct. 30, 2020. It reads: “Construction of a detached garage.”

Dozier called that a “clerical error” and noted a second notice of commencement was filed Dec. 8 that said “construction of an attached garage.”

Dozier said the error caught the attention of neighbors who believe he’s trying to get away with something.

“The people around here really latched onto that,” he said.

The county, meanwhile, determined the garage was attached because of a breezeway that connects the building with the house — though there are no doors in the breezeway connecting the house to the garage.

Neighbors say this goes against the county code for an attached garage. According to code, a garage is considered an accessory structure to the main building, a house.

The Land Development Code states: “An accessory structure attached by a common wall(s), foundation and under the same roofline of the principal structure.”

The county, for its part, says it doesn’t get involved in deed restriction issues. And County Administrator Randy Oliver noted in an email that Building Director Carl Jones plans to clear up the confusion in the definition of attached vs. detached.

Neighbors like Sue Hale say a breezeway, which isn’t connected with doors to either building, doesn’t fit the definition.

“A 3-year-old child could look at this and see it’s not attached,” she said.

Former property owners association board member Carol Bush said the difference is significant.

“Now anybody else can build a detached garage, connect it to their house with a breezeway, and what are we going to stay?” Bush said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Asked what he planned to park in the garage, Dozier said: “A boat? RV? Whatever I want to put in it.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com. To view more of his stories, go to www.tinyurl.com/y3bakm6w.