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Collier County Government News for December 2019

This month in Collier County government news: commissioners raise impact fees, delay vote on Rivergrass Village, adopt five-year mental health and addiction services strategic plan; county to receive state funds for affordable housing; school board OKs largest teacher pay increase in five years. For these stories and more Collier County government news, read on.

Affordable Housing

Collier County’s effort to increase the local supply of affordable housing is getting a boost from state officials.

Growth & Development

In the past decade, changes to state laws regarding the role of local review and approval of “developments of regional impact” have left local governments less opportunity to affect decision-making. As a result:

In a significant move with a vote of 4-1, commissioners this month raised water, sewer, and road impact fees. Commissioner Bill McDaniel voted no, saying there had been “very little discussion with regard to controlling of expenses.”

The legislature directed the Florida Department of Transportation last session to study the feasibility of a controversial plan to develop three new transportation corridors down the center of the state. Recently:

“Very few folks are more plugged into Collier development” than long-time planning commission chairman and hearing examiner Mark Strain, writes Naples Daily News “In the Know” columnist Phil Fernandez. Now:

East of 951/Collier Blvd

Collier commissioners were slated to vote at their December 10 meeting on the first of four significant new residential/commercial villages making their way through county review. But noting the gravity of the implications:

Golden Gate & East Naples

Days before a planned vote on land-use changes designed to keep some form of golf operation at the county-owned Golden Gate Country Club, Commissioner Burt Saunders asked for a delay.

With the golf industry in general in steady decline and the Riviera Golf Course in East Naples not generating enough revenue to be profitable or break-even, its owners want to change its use.

The Environment

“We’re staring down the face of an ecological disaster,” said a member of a consortium of South Florida sportsmen and conservation organizations, of plans to send 18 to 24 inches of water to the Everglades system where he and Florida’s Miccosukee Tribe of Indians live and work.

Health, Safety & Quality of Life

A strategic plan to better treat mental health and substance abuse in Collier County discussed by commissioners at an October workshop was adopted this month.

Drug and alcohol abuse spikes during December and the holiday season. In an effort to help keep those numbers down:

Risk protection orders are part of the new red flag law passed by the Legislature last session to flag potential mass shooters. Since the law’s passage:

Tourism

Crews were working seven days a week from sunrise to sunset in order to complete the county’s $5.5 million 2019 beach renourishment project before January 1.

Next up: another round-the-clock dredging project, this one in North Naples, at a cost of $2.35 million.

Commissioners agreed to pay $100,000 a year for three years to host the Football University Top Gun Showcase at the County’s new amateur sports complex under construction off Collier Boulevard just east of Interstate 75.


City of Naples

For three years, The Athens Group has worked closely with the owners of the Naples Beach Hotel to ensure that its redevelopment is as accessible to the public as possible. This month:

City officials and community stakeholders say a proposed public-private partnership to build a new downtown parking garage would bring value to the area and spur redevelopment.

Following a residents’ survey, city staff is readdressing the design elements to be put in place along Gulf Shore Blvd following completion of the Naples Beach Restoration & Water Quality Improvement Project.

In May, the Old Naples Association presented city council with a petition signed by nearly 200 members requesting that the city curb the use of certain leaf blowers, which proponents of regulation say are causing noise and environmental pollution. As a result:


City of Marco Island

The state’s Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission holds the power to impose discipline, from probation up to revoking an officer’s certification for moral character violations. And yet:

Law enforcement officers are often the first on unsecured scenes involving drug overdoses, and quick action to counter overdosing is essential. Therefore:

Wrongfully accused of misconduct and burdened with the fear of losing her job, former Marco Island police records clerk Heather Comparini can finally wake up from her 22-month-long nightmare.

Burrowing owls are a threatened species in Florida. Now:


City of Everglades City

Everglades City will pay more than half a million dollars to settle a federal lawsuit over an unpaid services contract. To help cover the cost, it raised its water and sewer rates for the first time in decades.

Before his August 2 death, Everglades City’s 85-year-old former mayor faced criminal charges and a civil lawsuit from the city related to allegations of grand theft and official misconduct. Now:


County Public Schools

After months of negotiating, the Collier County School District and the Collier County teachers union have agreed to salary increases totaling more than $9 million.

As tensions rise with Collier’s school district, its Mason Classical Academy charter school is asking a court to find that the termination of its partnership with Hillsdale College is not grounds to revoke its charter.

Naples Classical Academy, a new public charter school that like Mason will follow a classical model of education, passed its biggest hurdle to opening when Collier’s school board signed off this month.


Local news reported in this post is by Rachel Fradette, Laura Layden, Ryan Mills, Omar Rodríguez Ortiz, Devan Patel, Patrick Riley, Jessica Rodriguez, Karl Schneider and Andrew Wigdor (Naples Daily News/News-Press) and by Briana Harvath and Brea Hollingsworth (winknews.com).


Our State Legislators


Our U.S. Congressmen


That’s it for December’s Collier County Government News. Have a great January!

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