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.
Collier County’s effort to increase the local supply of affordable housing is getting a boost from state officials.
- Collier County gets $7.8M in state funding to aid planned affordable housing project. Naples Daily News, 12/23/19
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:
- Collier to join others in pulling funding from Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council. Naples Daily News, 12/18/19
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.”
- Collier commissioners approve impact fee increases for water, sewer, roads. Naples Daily News, 12/10/19
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:
- Naples community provides input on proposed toll road from Polk to Collier. Naples Daily News, 12/13/19
- Commentary: Proposed M-CORES project puts toll roads ahead of actual need. Julianne Thomas and Meredith Budd, Senior Environmental Planning Specialist for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida; and Southwest Florida Field Representative for Florida Wildlife Federation, via Florida Weekly, 12/19/19
“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:
- Mark Strain to resign hearing examiner role; remain on Collier planning commission. Naples Daily News, 12/16/19
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:
- Collier commissioners delay decision on rural Rivergrass Village. Naples Daily News, 12/21/19
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.
- Commissioner wants to delay decision on land-use changes for Golden Gate golf course. Naples Daily News, 12/9/19
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.
- Golf course owner seeking residential use sues Collier over rules to apply for rezoning. Naples Daily News, 12/13/19
“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.
- Miccosukee-led walk focuses on how plan to restore Everglades water flow threatens homes, way of life. Naples Daily News, 12/8/19
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.
- Mental Health and Addiction Services Five Year Strategic Plan 2020-2024, Collier County Mental Illness and Addiction Ad Hoc Advisory Committee, 10/29/19
Drug and alcohol abuse spikes during December and the holiday season. In an effort to help keep those numbers down:
- Collier County EMS hands out fliers to help those dealing with alcohol, drug abuse. winknews.com, 12/11/19
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:
- Collier, Lee judges strip gun rights in 9 of 10 red flag law cases. But are we safer? Naples Daily News, 12/12/19
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.
- Collier County wrapping up beach renourishment project. Naples Florida Weekly, 12/5/19
Next up: another round-the-clock dredging project, this one in North Naples, at a cost of $2.35 million.
- Turkey Bay, Wiggins Channel, Caxambas Pass dredging project underway. winknews.com, 12/30/19
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.
- Football U to bring more events to new Collier County sports stadium. Naples Daily News, 12/20/19
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 Council gives final thumbs up to Naples Beach Hotel redevelopment project. News-Press, 12/4/19
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.
- Gulfshore Playhouse parking garage proposal advances, could spur redevelopment in Naples downtown area. Naples Daily News, 12/3/19
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.
- Gulf Shore Boulevard project update. City of Naples Press Release, 12/13/19
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:
- Naples may consider rules to quiet noisy leaf blowers. Naples Daily News, 12/16/19
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:
- Ex-Marco officer tied to sex on duty scandal allowed to keep law enforcement certification. Naples Daily News, 12/17/19
Law enforcement officers are often the first on unsecured scenes involving drug overdoses, and quick action to counter overdosing is essential. Therefore:
- Marco Island police officers will carry life-saving drug Narcan. Naples Daily News, 12/27/19
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.
- Marco City Council approves settlement with former police records clerk. Naples Daily News, 12/2/19
Burrowing owls are a threatened species in Florida. Now:
- City of Marco Island may soon pay homeowners to dig starter owl burrows in front yards. Marco Eagle, 12/9/19
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.
- Everglades City settles lawsuit filed by former utilities contractor. Naples Daily News, 12/6/19
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:
- Lawsuit against former Everglades City mayor who died lives on. Naples Daily News, 12/17/19
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.
- Collier school board OKs largest teacher pay increase in 5 years after union deal. Naples Daily News, 12/10/19
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.
- Mason Classical Academy sues school district, former board treasurer. Naples Daily News, 12/5/19
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.
- A new charter school is coming to North Naples. What’s happening with that? Naples Daily News, 12/23/19
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
- Opinion: Florida seniors deserve to be safe. By Kathleen Passidomo via Naples Daily News, 12/18/19
- Bob Rommel won’t run for Congress. Florida Politics, 12/10/19
- Byron Donalds would be a strong contender in CD 19 if he joins the race. Florida Politics, 12/3/19
Our U.S. Congressmen
- Congressman Rooney to vote NO on impeachment of the President. Rooney Press Release, 12/18/19
- Diaz-Balart: This impeachment has no merit. Diaz-Balart Press Release, 12/18/19
That’s it for December’s Collier County Government News. Have a great January!