Sunday, March 3, 2019

Local News in Review - February 2019

Here’s my latest review of news for Collier voters about our local elected officials and governing bodies.

In a sentence: the Board of County Commissioners continued exploring development/redevelopment options for East Naples and the eastern county, amended the land development code to attract affordable housing, halted new median landscaping due to budget constraints, and began discussing a possible county-wide fertilizer use ordinance with the cities of Naples and Marco Island; the Naples’ Planning Advisory Board continued review of a proposed redevelopment of the Naples Beach Hotel and golf course; the Marco City Council rejected requested zoning changes related to the Olde Marco Inn and a proposed assisted living facility; and the North Collier Fire District’s plans for fire stations stirred controversy.

Read on for these stories and other news of note from February!

Board of County Commissioners 


Reporting and insight by Brent Batten, Liz Freeman, and Patrick Riley - Naples Daily News 
Next elections: August 2020 Primary. Find your commission district HERE.

Growth, development, and redevelopment

  • Potential buyers eye County land in Estates after residents balked at bus barn idea. Commissioners voted to further explore plans for a property swap between the county and the Collier school system that would put a joint vehicle maintenance facility on the land. District 5 Commissioner Bill McDaniel cast the lone dissenting vote. Naples Daily News, 2/2/19
    • Related: County taking offers on Golden Gate Estates acreage. Naples Daily News, 2/12/19
  • Plan for labs, lofts, arts and shops along Bayshore in East Naples draws interest, skepticism. The project will continue to be scrutinized by the Bayshore Gateway Triangle Community Redevelopment Area advisory board and others before going back before the County Commission. Naples Daily News, 2/12/19
  • Commissioners pass measures to lure affordable housing. The changes to the land development code increase the affordable housing density bonus from 8 to 12 units per acre, which means a maximum of 16 units per acre, in some cases, would be allowed. Naples Daily News, 2/18/19
    • Related:Opinion: Calling it a housing crisis is a stretch. By Donna Fiala, Collier County Commissioner District 1, via Naples Daily News, 2/20/19

Environment

  • Brent Batten: Summer use of fertilizer a growing concern in Collier County. But after three hours of sometimes conflicting testimony at a meeting of Collier County commissioners, Naples City Council members, and Marco Island councilors, it was clear that a consensus on an ordinance doesn't exist. Naples Daily News, 2/12/19 
  • Opinion: We may never get a second chance to weigh in on decisions affecting this much growth in Collier County. Attend the “Future Land Use and Build-out Workshop” on March 5 and have your voice heard. By April Olson, Senior Environmental Planning Specialist, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Florida Weekly, 2/28/19, via Naples Daily News
  • More oil drilling proposed for southern Florida. But nothing is imminent since these projects require extensive permitting and preparation. Sun-Sentinel via Naples Daily News, 2/12/19

Other County news

  • Collier mental health committee tasked with shaping new treatment center. Early draft plans foresee a 24/7 central receiving facility in a 55,000-square-foot building on the campus of the David Lawrence Center on Golden Gate Parkway. Naples Daily News, 2/10/19
    • Related: Depositions ordered in David Lawrence Center dispute with foundation over land for expansion. Naples Daily News, 2/9/19
  • More buses, running longer into night considered to ease traffic in Collier County. Despite projected budget shortfalls even without increasing service, Commissioners Solis and Saunders acknowledge the need. Naples Daily News, 2/5/19
  • 90 percent of Collier gas stations in compliance with new security. Commissioners created a new ordinance as a way to deter thieves from stealing personal information using chip readers and skimming devices. NBC-2.com, 2/11/19
  • Brent Batten: Money for Collier median landscaping running dry; what to do? Maintenance costs have increased from $44,000 per mile in 2017 to $73,000 today, as demand for landscape maintenance labor has not kept up with requests. Naples Daily News, 2/23/19
    • Related: Faced with rising costs, Collier stops new median landscape projects for now. Naples Daily News, 2/26/19
  • Commissioners reject procedural step required to move forward with stormwater fee proposal. The vote was 3 to 2 against approving a procedural step required to preserve the county’s right to use residents’ property tax bills as the method of collecting any proposed future fee. Naples Daily News, 2/26/19

Naples City Council


Reporting and insight by Brent Batten and Lisa Conley - Naples Daily News
Next elections: April 2019 (see below); February 2020. 
  • Naples Beach Hotel redevelopment plan vote delayed amid size concerns. Developers will submit revised plans at the City Planning Board’s March 13 meeting. Naples Daily News, 2/13/19
    • Related: Editorial: Proposal to redevelop Naples Beach Hotel site merits support. Naples Daily News, 2/14/19
    • Related: Brent Batten: How high is high? At the Beach Club, it's not easy to envision. Naples Daily News, 2/26/19
  • Council won't scale back hours of operation for construction workers. Concerns raised earlier in the month were addressed by partnering with the building industry so members decided to leave the hours unchanged. Naples Daily News, 2/19/19; also 2/7/19
A special election to fill the Naples City Council seat recently vacated by Linda Penniman will be held on April 2. City residents who wish to vote in the election must register by March 4. The deadline to request a Vote-By-Mail ballot is March 31. Details here.
  • Council candidates discuss development, water quality in first forum. They were largely in agreement about many of the most pressing issues facing the city. Naples Daily News, 2/27/19
The City of Naples wants to hear from city residents and businesses! They are invited to complete a survey by March 8 as part of the city’s visioning plan assessment. More here.

Marco Island City Council

Reporting by Devan Patel - Naples Daily News / Marco Eagle
Next elections: November 2020
  • Commentary: Marco begins 2019 with first step toward effective government. With the professional help of the interim city manager, I’m hopeful the council will establish a framework for effective governance, one that will be less volatile and subject to manipulation. Charlette Roman, Member, Marco Island City Council, via Naples Daily News, 1/11/19
  • Marco Island ups penalties for violations of endangered species ordinance. But Council stopped short of adding the strictest penalties it can. Marco Eagle, 1/11/19
  • Council rejects assisted living facility. Approval of the requested rezoning would have facilitated the construction of a three-story, 143 unit facility on five of 12 acres. Naples Daily News, 1/23/19
  • Council takes preliminary steps in city manager search. A senior advisor with the Florida City and County Management Association will meet individually with Councillors about what they are looking for in a manager and the city’s most pressing concerns. Marco Eagle, 1/29/19

Collier County School Board

Next elections: August 2020

Fire Districts

Reporting by Jake Allen - Naples Daily News
Next elections: August 2020. Find your fire district HERE.

North Collier Fire District 
  • North Collier fire board unanimously takes neutral position on fire fee legislation. The move came less than six months after voters soundly rejected a proposal that would have allowed fire fees to be levied in the North Collier district. Naples Daily News, 2/13/10
  • North Collier Fire District's plans for stations stir up controversy. Response times and neighborhood intrusion are factors in both proposed moves, which the fire district has been wrestling with for months. Naples Daily News, 2/21/19
That’s it for February’s local news. Later this month: a post on the Naples City  Council candidates … Stay tuned!