News for Collier Voters – September 2019

Census 2020 planning begins in Collier County; commissioners may ban retail sale of puppies and kittens; North Naples development with affordable housing units approved; City to plant 384 new trees and palms; Clerk to host driver’s license reinstatement event; more…. Also in this post: news about Collier’s state senator, representatives and congressman. For this and more for Collier County voters, read on…

Civic Engagement

It’s time for communities to start planning for the 2020 U.S. Census! Census data is used to determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives, which determines a state’s electoral college votes, and is also used to distribute billions in federal funds annually. A Complete Count Census Work Group is being organized by Collier County Public Schools and the first meeting will be on October 10. Participants to-date include the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, the Boys and Girls Club of Collier County, Champions for Learning, the Immokalee Foundation, the Benison Center, CareerSource Southwest Florida and Collier County. For more information about how you or your organization can participate, contact the school district’s communications department at (239) 377-0180.

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office has a podcast called Sworn Statement that explores local cases and public safety issues in Collier County. Recently-released Season 2 looks at the mental health crisis in Southwest Florida and shows how the Sheriff’s Office, County Judge Janeice Martin’s drug, mental health and veterans treatment courts, the David Lawrence Center, NAMI and others work together to provide alternatives to incarceration.

  • CCSO Sworn Statement podcast one-minute trailer here.

A longtime Collier County resident who is a retired dog groomer asked the county to ban the retail sale of puppies and kittens. After hearing her public petition, commissioners signaled they want to take up the issue.

Growth & Development

East of 951/Collier Blvd

Plans to build three 1,000-acre villages and one 655-acre village in the eastern part of Collier County are under review by county officials. Rivergrass Village, Longwater Village, Bellmar Village and Hyde Park together could add up to 9,650 homes to the region.

Golden Gate & East Naples

A real estate company planning to purchase a property in the Gateway Triangle area of East Naples asked commissioners to decide on their appeal of a previously-approved plan for a hotel in the area. They contended the smaller size of the hotel rooms violates the county’s land development code.

As directed by the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) in 2015, county staff has been conducting “restudies” of the four master plans that govern growth in eastern Collier County. More here. In September, the BCC approved replacing the Golden Gate Area Master Plan with three new plans, recognizing the separate areas and the different issues each faces. The areas are Golden Gate City, the Urban Estates (west of CR 951) and the Rural Estates (east of 951).

An undeveloped slice of land in Golden Gate Estates will be sold to a group that plans to develop it into a commercial hub for rural residents. The sale means the Shy Wolf Sanctuary, which has long been looking for a bigger space, is one step closer to a new home.

The saga of a Golden Gate Golf Course purchased by the county for $29 million in July continues. After an initial 60-day agreement to maintain the facility expired, the BCC granted Kova Golf Management and The First Tee of Naples/Collier a 60-day extension. The groups hope to persuade commissioners to keep some type of golf ongoing until planned redevelopment of the property takes place.

North Naples

Collier County commissioners, following hours of discussion and testimony at a public meeting, approved a North Naples housing development that will include affordable units. Commissioner Penny Taylor said she hoped the move would make the county’s big employers — including Arthrex and the NCH Healthcare System — “understand we’re serious” about having affordable housing in Collier County. The development, known as Allura, has been opposed by some nearby residents who say it will make traffic problems worse and doesn’t fit in with the surrounding communities.

The Environment

Unsplash

In the final step needed to begin a $5+ million beach renourishment project approved in June, the BCC awarded a contract to spread 165,000 tons of sand over 2.5 miles of shoreline. The project, to begin this month, will be funded through the county’s Tourist Development Tax Fund.

A bill passed in the last state legislative session authorized an ambitious plan for three new toll roads. It has been described as a “new approach” in planning the state’s future, reducing congestion, providing new evacuation routes and offering a way to revitalize rural communities by expanding broadband, water and sewer infrastructure. Task forces have been appointed to provide local government and community input. Representatives for our region include Collier Commissioner Bill McDaniel (for the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council), Commissioner Penny Taylor (for the Board of County Commissioners) and Naples Councilman Reg Buxton (for the Collier Metropolitan Planning Organization). This project is a big deal, so stay tuned!

Health, Safety & Quality of Life

Amid the growing epidemic of mental health issues and suicides among first responders, a Collier County EMT worked a 24-hour shift one day after a sheriff’s deputy detained him under the Baker Act. If the Emergency Services Department had been aware of the incident, it would not have had him on duty. But there are no self-reporting requirements for mental health issues.

Naples City Council

Health insurance rates for City employees were set to increase 20% after claims for the past two years exceeded estimates. To prevent the increase, City Council approved a one-time transfer of $1 million from the city’s departmental operating funds.

Hurricane Irma destroyed nearly 2,000 trees. “Now we’re trying to get back to where we were,” Mayor Bill Barnett said.

As part of the beach renourishment project mentioned above, the city’s Park Shore beaches are set to receive thousands of dump truck loads of sand beginning as early as next week .

Marco Island City Council

There was much news again last month about the Marco Island Police Department. New readers may be unaware of the reports of often-disturbing behavior we’ve shared in prior posts. For that, look here. In September:

Collier County School Board

As reported last month, the Collier County School Board approved a budget that included higher property taxes to fund education. Turns out they have company.

A former Parkside Elementary School teacher who was fired by the district in March has been accused in a 20th instance of sexual abuse. Parents have criticized the district’s lack of communication about the matter.

Local news reported in this post is by Lisa Conley, Chad Gillis, Devan Patel, Patrick Riley, Karl Schneider (Naples Daily News/News-Press), and Omar Rodriguez Ortiz (Marco Eagle).

Clerk of Circuit Court & Comptroller

If you have a suspended driver license, this is for you. On October 12, you can pay overdue court obligations, including traffic ticket fines, without having to pay additional collection fees. You may also be able to have your license reinstated to get back on the road.

The Clerk’s monthly newsletter informs readers about events like these and other services the office offers. Sign up here.


News from Tallahassee

Find your state representatives based on your street address here.

My News for Florida Voters curates news from Tallahassee that is relevant to all Florida voters. If there is news specific to Collier County, it will be reported in News for Collier Voters.

Sen. Kathleen Passidomo:

“While in Tallahassee [last month], I had the opportunity to meet with a number of our state agency heads, including Secretary of the Department of Elder Affairs Richard Prudom and Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) Secretary Mary Mayhew….”

Rep. Byron Donalds

“For the upcoming 2020 Legislative Session, I am proud to announce that I will be serving on the following Committees….”


News from Washington, D.C.

Find your congressman based on your street address here.

Rep. Francis Rooney, District 19

Leading House Republicans who back federal policies to curb climate change said they oppose the Trump administration’s move to eliminate direct federal regulation of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. “Even the major oil companies agree that this rule rollback is unnecessary,” Rep. Rooney said.

A bill that would permanently ban drilling off Florida’s eastern coastline sponsored by Rep. Rooney passed the House of Representatives. The matter now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Marco Rubio supports an extension of a ban to 2027.

Rep. Rooney has become a member of the U.S. House Environment Subcommittee. “Southwest Florida has a tourism-driven economy that depends on clean water and a healthy environment,” he said. “The subcommittee has jurisdiction over much of the non-defense, federal environment research programs that provide innovative solutions to our environmental challenges.”

Rep. Rooney was the only Republican member of Congress from Florida to vote in favor of a resolution to terminate President Donald Trump’s national emergency border security declaration.

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