This month in Collier County government news: PAC supporting Naples incumbents gets busy; planned North Naples condos and new Senior Center face opposition; new flood maps could affect you. For these stories and more news for Collier County voters, read on.
Local news reported in this post is by Brent Batten, Brittany Carloni, Rachel Fradette, Maureen Kenyon, Laura Layden, Devan Patel and Patrick Riley (USA TODAY Network – Florida: Naples Daily New, News-Press, Marco Eagle).
Growth & Development
One Naples is a planned condo and retail space to be built along Vanderbilt Beach and Gulfshore Drive in North Naples, housing 300 units and a private marina. Despite developer efforts to be responsive, neighbors remain concerned.
- Stock Development holds community meetings to tell ‘good story’ about One Naples. Naples Daily News, 2/15/20
- Hundreds oppose proposed North Naples condos at public meeting. Naples Daily News, 3/3/20
Naples Senior Center has outgrown its current leased space and wants zoning changes so it can build a two-story complex at the southeast intersection of Autumn Oakes Lane and Oakes Boulevard. But:
- Naples Senior Center planned move faces opposition. Naples Daily News, 3/3/20
The owners of the 94-acre Riviera Golf Course sued the County in December over the requirements that have to be met before a golf course can apply for a rezoning, arguing many of the requirements are “egregious and confiscatory.” Now:
- Collier asks judge to dismiss suit brought by East Naples golf course owner. Naples Daily News, 2/28/20
The South Florida Water Management District has approved a plan to buy about 20,000 acres in the Everglades, a deal that would block exploratory oil drilling on part of the property.
- Everglades deal to block oil drilling is approved. South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 2/3/20
Lake Trafford in Immokalee is the largest freshwater lake south of Lake Okeechobee. It underwent tens of millions of dollars’ worth of restoration since nonnative aquatic plants took over the ecosystem in the 1970s, yet it remains on the state’s list of impaired water bodies. Now:
- Basin board approves aquatic plantings to help restore Lake Trafford. Naples Daily News, 2/25/20
In other news:
- Florida DEP brings stormwater discussion to Naples Botanical Garden. Naples Daily News, 2/6/20
- Water quality issues, solutions center stage at Collier County town hall. Naples Daily News, 2/18/20
Health, Safety & Quality of Life
The proposed Arts and Culture Strategic Plan to guide county involvement was unanimously approved by the county’s Tourism Development Council.
- Arts and Culture plan jumps its first hurdle; next stop, Collier commissioners. Naples Daily News, 2/25/20
County park pickleball members pushed back on proposed fee hikes recommended for adoption by county staff and an advisory board that would in some cases triple the existing rates. As a result:
- Proposal to raise Collier pickleball fees draws players’ ire, prompts scrutiny of contract. Naples Daily News, 2/13/20
A 15-foot-tall, 22-ton marble sculpture comes to the East Trail, thanks to the leadership of Commissioner Donna Fiala and her support for public art.
- Brent Batten: Collier puts out solid marble welcome mat in East Naples. Naples Daily News, 2/13/20
Other County News:
- New flood maps draw a crowd in Collier as property owners try to gauge impact. Naples Daily News, 3/4/20
- Collier commissioners delay vote on pet shop regulations to seek more public input. Naples Daily News, 2/25/20
- Business Climate Survey shows overall confidence in the local economy. Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, Press Release, 2/25/20
City of Naples
Last month, I wrote about the candidates for mayor and City Council in this month’s City of Naples elections. You can view the candidates’ latest campaign finance filings here.
On February 13, 2020, a Political Action Committee (PAC) called Citizens Who Love Naples was formed to support the incumbent mayor and council candidates. Its most recent filing reported 15 contributions of between $1,000 and $10,000 each totaling $76,000, and expenditures of $56,025.
Ethics Naples was the winner in a decision by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in a case over whether a proposal for a city ethics commission can be placed before voters in Naples.
- Appeals court orders referendum on Naples ethics commission proposal. Naples Daily News, 2/21/19; read the decision here
- Ethics Naples referendum could land on August primary ballot. Naples Daily News, 3/2/20
The Naples Community Redevelopment Agency is holding public meetings to seek input from stakeholders for redevelopment planning for four city neighborhoods.
- Naples Redevelopment Area upcoming meetings. City of Naples, 3/2/20
The City’s Planning Advisory Board voted 5-1, with board member Bruce Selfon dissenting, to recommend denial of a variance that would allow Wounded Warriors of Collier County to house eight people — seven veterans and one caretaker — in a single-family home in River Park.
- Naples planning board recommends denial of variance for veterans home. Naples Daily News, 2/21/20
- Related: ’You have no idea how this is going to change lives’: Homeless veterans have a place of their own in Collier to get back on their feet. Naples Daily News, 1/16/20
About 12 blocks of Gulf Shore Boulevard between South Golf Drive and Second Avenue South will have to be torn up as the city proceeds with work on the beach outfall removal project.
- Some Naples residents worried about new look for iconic Gulf Shore Boulevard. Naples Daily News, 2/15/20
- Should there be bike lanes on Gulf Shore Boulevard? Naples residents debate at workshop. Naples Daily News, 2/18/20
In other news:
- Naples makes ‘safest cities in Florida’ list — again. Naples Daily News, 2/12/20
City of Marco Island
Following a beach code violation last year related to trimming vegetation on dunes:
- City of Marco Island reaches agreements with Madeira, contractors and realtor on probation. Marco Eagle, 2/4/20
City Council Chairman Erik Brechnitz was incensed the state’s Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission agreed to a suspension and probation for a former Marco Island police officer caught on video putting his pants on outside of his squad car.
- Police officers having sex on duty? It happens more than you think. Naples Daily News, 2/4/20
The City of Marco Island may have to rehire police officers it deemed not suitable for employment — with full back pay.
- Unfavorable arbitration decisions could cost Marco Island more than $150K. Naples Daily News, 2/12/20
In other news:
- Marco Island: New $9.5M fire station to include hurricane center. Marco Eagle, 2/11/20
- Marco Island makes ‘safest cities in Florida’ list — again. Naples Daily News, 2/12/20
- Marco Island City Council approves $100K settlement for woman who had sex with on-duty police. Naples Daily News, 2/19/20
- Summary judgment granted in former Marco Island employee’s free speech lawsuit against city. Naples Daily News, 2/27/20
- A decade of questions about Marco Island’s disabled stormwater filters. Marco Eagle, 2/28/20
City of Everglades City
The small town on the edge of the Everglades, which was one of the hardest hit areas when Hurricane Irma swept through in 2017, has been wrestling with a host of issues related to its sewage plant. Now some good news:
- Everglades City gets $295K state grant to patch up failing sewage plant. Naples Daily News, 2/17/20
Collier County Public Schools
- Collier School Board facing disability discrimination and whistleblower lawsuit. Naples Daily News, 2/18/20
- Collier’s 2021-22 school calendar includes an earlier start date and more half-days. Naples Daily News, 2/21/20
Supervisor of Elections
Nearly 60% of Collier County voters who voted in 2016 were moved to inactive. They’re disproportionately younger, non-white and registered as Democrats.
- There’s an ‘inactive’ voter list. Are you on it? News-Press, 2/27/20
- Editorial: Collier moves too quickly to put voters on inactive status. Naples Daily News, 3/4/20
Our State Legislators
Parts of Collier County are represented in the Florida House of Representatives by Rep. Byron Donalds (District 80), Rep. Bob Rommel (District 106), and Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez (District 105). All of Collier County is represented in the Florida Senate by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo.
- Bipartisan group of lawmakers forms Lake Okeechobee Working Group for 2020 session. TCPalm/Treasure Coast Newspapers, 2/4/20
- Opinion: Trump’s blue collar boom will keep Florida red in 2020. By State Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Naples, via Naples Daily News, 2/7/20
- Sen. Kathleen Passidomo’s 2020 Week Seven Legislative Update. KathleenPassidomo.com, 2/29/20
- Update on COVID19 cases in Florida. KathleenPassidomo.com, 3/2/20
Our U.S. Congressmen
Parts of Collier County are represented in the U.S. Congress by
U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (District 25) and U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney (District 19).
- Rep. Diaz-Balart: My family was forced into exile from Cuba. Here’s the truth for Sanders, Castro apologists. Via Fox News, 3/1/20
- Congressman Rooney votes against unnecessary and irresponsible spending – “Congress must start paying attention to our unconscionable national debt.” Press Release, 2/7/20
Opportunities to Learn
- Will new flood maps affect your home? Learn about your risk of flooding and what the new maps will mean for your property. Details here and here.
- I-75 South Corridor Expansion – Public meetings hosted by Florida Department of Transportation, 3/24/20 (Collier County) and 3/31/20 (Lee County)
- Commissioner Penny Taylor Town Hall Meeting – Updates on the state of the Collier County budget, infrastructure sales surtax, Livingston Road public utilities project, the County’s integrated water resource management strategy and more. Presentation slides here.
- North Naples News and Collier County Updates – Commissioner Andy Solis Newsletter, 2/29/20
That’s it for February’s Collier County government news. Have a great March, and don’t forget to vote!