Reporting Carey Codd
PLANTATION ACRES (CBS4) – Although the holidays are months away, a Christmas battle is brewing in a quiet Plantation Acres neighborhood and it’s driving a wedge between neighbors.
Each Thanksgiving, Mark and Kathy Hyatt welcome the public to their home filled with 187,000 lights and decorations. It’s called Hyatt Extreme Christmas and the Hyatt’s estimate that thousands of people see it each year. They also say it raises thousands of dollars for charities.
One of the reasons Hyatt started the display — “It brings our neighbors together because too many people don’t know their neighbors.”
But lately the display is driving some of the neighbors on his cul-de-sac apart and it’s threatening the harmony that the Hyatt’s hoped to create with the display.
Several neighbors say it’s becoming too big for a residential holiday display. Neighbors say kids can’t go outside because there are too many cars and they say people visiting the neighborhood leave a mess behind. Plus they fear if there’s an emergency.
“Aside from being un-neighborly, it’s a safety hazard as far as I’m concerned,” a neighbor named Barbara said. “I am really, really worried about something going wrong. There’s no way that emergency vehicles could get in and out of here.”
But Mark Hyatt says he and his crew work hard to prevent traffic from flowing down the street and he has ample parking.
“Our biggest issue is to park the cars safely and keep the road as clear as possible so people can cross it especially the children,” Hyatt said.
He says he personally cleans up as much trash as he can. Bottom line, Hyatt believes some of the heat is coming from city hall.
“I feel like I’m being targeted by the city when I’m trying to do something that has done nothing but enhance the reputation of this city,” Hyatt told CBS 4′s Carey Codd.
The city says it can’t do anything legally to stop his display and only wants to find an amicable solution.
“I think everybody has a right to a certain amount of residential display but at the same time you have to be cognizant of what’s happening in your neighborhood,” said Plantation Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic.
Bendekovic says she has met with residents and Hyatt trying to mediate the issue. She says the city has asked the South Florida Water Management District to restrict parking on Old Hiatus Road where many people park when visiting the Hyatt’s display. She also suggested that Hyatt hire a police detail to provide security and assist with traffic flow. But Hyatt said he can’t afford that.
For him, he says he wants to work his neighbors and continue to provide a stunning holiday display to the people of South Florida.
“I’m gonna do my best to make everybody as happy as I can but again, I’m not gonna allow the few to ruin it for the many,” Hyatt said.
Not everyone in the neighborhood is against the display. At least two neighbors on this cul-de-sac say they’re fine with it.