Collier County Government News for November 2019

This month in Collier County government news: Planning Commission rejects proposed Rivergrass Village; commissioners defer vote on impact fee increases; firefighters, EMS train to respond to active shooter situations. For these stories and more Collier County government news, read on.

Collier County Government News

Civic Engagement

After hearing some opposition and neighborhood concerns, a well-known Naples developer went back to the drawing board.

A Naples resident had asked the City to allow dogs off-leash during early morning hours on a portion of the public beach. But amid concerns, the Community Services Advisory Board voted unanimously to recommend that City Council deny the request.

Community members in the Golden Gate Estates Area say a proposed zoning change “would make life for all the surrounding homeowners miserable.”

Opportunities to consider:

Growth & Development

Collier County is considering changes to impact fees on new development but critics say higher fees could make new homes less affordable and cause new businesses to go elsewhere.

“Commissioners Bill McDaniel and Donna Fiala have aligned themselves with developers,” write Phil Fernandez and David Dorsey for the Naples Daily News/News-Press, while “Commissioners Penny Taylor and Burt Saunders have sided with the taxpayers” and “Commissioner Andy Solis has set himself up as the swing vote.”

East of 951/Collier Blvd

Rivergrass, a proposed village with up to 2,500 homes, commercial and governmental space, and an 18-hole golf course in eastern Collier County, is headed to county commissioners in December without an important recommendation.

Golden Gate & East Naples

New, market-rate apartments could revitalize the defunct Courthouse Shadows Shopping Center in East Naples. The Board of County Commissioners approved increased density for the development on a 4-1 vote. Commissioner Penny Taylor dissented because approval was not contingent upon inclusion of affordable housing units.

North Naples

A two-lane roundabout on Bonita Beach Road is the last step to a long-awaited connection.

Two long-discussed projects to convert underutilized retail space to residential use are progressing.

The Environment

South Florida Water Management District managers are looking at more than two dozen ways to clean water stored along the Caloosahatchee River system. Meetings beginning in January will give the public an idea of the 25 treatment technologies the district is looking to implement.

Mayor Bill Barnett hosted a town hall to inform the public about the steps cities and agencies have taken to combat the deteriorating water quality that resulted from last year’s devastating algal blooms.

Conservation Collier is a Collier County land acquisition program approved by voters in 2002 and again in 2006 following a stakeholder-driven campaign by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and other environmental groups. Land purchases and maintenance under the program were funded by a voter-approved special tax that ended in 2016. Next year, voters may be asked whether they support re-starting the program by bringing back the special tax.

Separately, Commissioners approved on a 4-1 vote the purchase for $1.58 million of a 37-acre parcel. Commissioner Solis dissented because he opposes funding the purchase from the Conservation Collier land maintenance budget.

Health, Safety & Quality of Life

A recent decision made collaboratively by Collier County’s first responders sets the stage for success in dangerous situations.

The majority of human trafficking cases go unreported, making it difficult to convince lawmakers to spend money to combat the problem. A new initiative will collect data from those who provide services to victims.

Collier County’s new Advanced Traffic Management System monitors data in real-time, prioritizes fire/rescue and EMS vehicles transiting through intersections and automatically changes signal timing based on vehicle volumes.

Dead fish sightings were reported several times this month due to lingering red tide along the coast. Neither the City, County nor state is responsible for removing dead fish floating in canals of other inland bodies of water.

A pedestrian bridge across Golden Gate Parkway would make it easier for walkers and bikers to get from one to the other.

Collier County’s multi-million dollar beach renourishment project is more than a third complete and on pace to finish up by the end of the year.

A recently-approved contract to dredge Water Turkey Bay, Wiggins Pass and Caxambas Pass will help boaters and renourish Marco Island’s South Beach.

City of Naples

A new five-star resort to take the place of the historic Naples Beach Hotel is one step closer to final approval. Council’s final vote will be after a second hearing on December 4.

The City of Naples has launched a quarterly newsletter. Sign up to be informed!

City of Marco Island

Erik Brechnitz was re-elected for an unprecedented second consecutive term as the Chairman of the Marco Island City Council.

Marco Island City Council is attempting to set rules for the placement of road-side signs.

Facing repeat violations of ordinances, City councilors want to do more to punish offenders.

Marco Island Police Chief Tracy Frazzano shares agency challenges at event hosted by the Marco Island Police Foundation.

And in other Marco Island news:

Collier County Public Schools

Collier school students who are qualified medical marijuana patients can now receive treatments on campus under a new policy passed unanimously by the school board.

In other news:

Local news reported in this post is by Jake Allen, Brent Batten, David Dorsey, Phil Fernandez, Rachel Fradette, Frank Gluck, Greg Hardwig, Laura Layden, Devan Patel, Patrick Riley, Karl Schneider and Andrew Wigdor (Naples Daily News/News-Press); Omar Rodriguez Ortiz (Marco Eagle); Tim Aten, Kristine Gill (Florida Weekly); Steve “Stef” Stefanides (Coastal Breeze News); and Andrea Perdomo (WGCU News).

Collier Clerk Crystal Kinzel

Collier County residents who wish to handle certain civil court matters without an attorney can now find help at the Collier County Courthouse. A new “Self Help Center” provides automated, computerized forms for small claims matters, landlord/tenant cases and family law proceedings, including divorce.

Collier Sheriff Kevin Rambosk

Collier County Sheriff ’s Office Sgt. Wade Williams, named Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, was nominated by Linda Oberhaus, chief executive officer of The Shelter for Abused Women & Children in Collier County.

Fire Districts

On November 4, 2014, voters agreed to merge the existing East Naples and Golden Gate Fire Districts. Since then, the Greater Naples Fire Rescue District has experienced tremendous growth, protecting more than 160,000 residents in some 1,512 square miles through a number of local and state operating agreements that make it one of the largest fire districts in the State.

The long-talked-about consolidation of Collier’s fire districts is already happening. Crews are responding to emergencies based on their location and their capabilities. What stands in the way of full consolidation are complex questions about tax burden, employee wage and benefit equity and good, old-fashioned politics.

Our State Legislators

Our U.S. Representatives

That’s it for November’s Collier County Government News. Happy Holidays!

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