Collier County & Local News for February 2021

Board of County Commissioners

The Board of County Commissioners (BCC) held regular meetings on February 9, February 23, and a special meeting to consider zoning changes for the One Naples development (see below) on March 1. Agendas and video replays HERE.

Also, Commissioner Bill McDaniel held a Town Hall on February 10 (replay HERE) and Commissioner Penny Taylor held a Town Hall on February 24 (replay HERE).

Actions Related to Development Projects

One Naples

After several years of project revisions, Commissioners approved zoning changes that enable Stock Development to build One Naples, a controversial, multi-million dollar, resort-style luxury project at the corner of Vanderbilt Beach Road and Gulf Shore Drive in North Naples. See the One Naples website HERE and the website of the community group that opposed the project HERE. The vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Penny Taylor voting no.

Housing developments in eastern Collier County

Collier Enterprises’ plans to develop a town or trio of villages (including the previously-approved Rivergrass Village) east of Golden Gate Estates continue to evolve, but still draw concerns from environmental groups and others. This month, the County Planning Commission unanimously approved changes requested by the developer to the County’s rural growth plan, sending the plans ahead for commissioner approval. They are scheduled to make a final decision on the other two villages in late April.

Separately, developers who propose a village just west of Everglades Boulevard on Immokalee Road are also requesting zoning changes. The developer is a partnership linked to Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2018. The village would contain up to 4,000 residences with areas set aside for commercial and civil development.

Great Wolf Resort and Indoor Water Park

Great Wolf Resorts wants to build a 550-room resort and indoor water park on 20 acres near the county’s Paradise Coast Sports Complex off Collier Boulevard. The proposed development is expected to generate more than $5 billion in net new spending and more than 1,400 direct and indirect full-time equivalent jobs and accrue $150 million in taxes over a 30-year period. This month, Commissioners authorized staff to begin negotiations with the developer on its requested incentives.

Big Cypress Basin Expansion

Last month, I wrote about Lee County’s effort to add areas of south Lee County including Estero and Bonita Springs to the Big Cypress Basin. That part of Lee County is currently in another part of the South Florida Water Management District known as the Okeechobee Basin. As proposed Florida Senate and House bills (SB 406/HB 209) now stand, Lee County would share with Collier authority over how the Big Cypress Basin is managed and what projects within the Basin are funded.

After a lengthy discussion at their February 23 meeting, Collier County Commissioners voted 4-1 to oppose the bills unless certain amendments are made.

County Manager Search

This month, the BCC agreed on five candidates to succeed County Manager Leo Ochs when he retires in May. Only one of them, Mark Isackson, was named a finalist by all five commissioners. Isackson is currently Collier County’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Watch his presentation on the 2021-22 budget assumptions at the BCC’s 2/23/21 meeting HERE (starting at 3:39:29). The finalists were invited to make presentations to Commissioners at their first meeting in March.

Other BCC News

Naples City Council

Naples City Council held regular meetings on February 3 and 17 and on March 3, and a workshop on February 16 (agendas and video replays HERE). Of note was Council’s consideration of a proposed ordinance to limit building heights in the City to 42 feet. After discussion, the decision was postponed because the ordinance did not clearly state that the 42-foot height limit included rooftop mechanical equipment.

Marco Island City Council

Marco Island City Council held regular meetings on February 1, February 22 and March 1 and held a special-called meeting on February 22. Agendas and video replays HERE. As reported by local journalists:

As we wrote last month, former City Councilor Victor Rios was arrested on charges of voting fraud earlier this month. Since then:

District School Board of Collier County

The District School Board of Collier County held a regular meeting on February 9 and a work session on February 16 to consider changes to district policies. Agendas and video replays HERE.

Also this month, the District received a $146,000 grant from the state to develop a pre-apprenticeship training program.

Other Local Elected Officials

Collier Sheriff

As Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk enters his fourth term of office, making the most of technology to maintain low crime, meeting the needs of the community and keeping up with growth are among his priorities.

Collier Sheriff / 20th Circuit State Attorney

Nicholas Morales-Bessannia, 37, was shot by a Collier County Sheriff’s Office deputy outside a home in the Farm Workers Village neighborhood in Immokalee in September 2020. This month, the deputy was cleared of wrongdoing by State Attorney Amira Fox. The Collier County Sheriff’s office will now conduct a Professional Responsibility Bureau investigation to ensure that agency policies and procedures were followed during the encounter (press release)Immokalee residents continue to demand justice.

Florida Legislature

U.S. House of Representatives

Key Votes in the U.S. House

Approving $1.9 trillion in virus relief
Diaz-Balart — No; Donalds — No
HR 1319 passed 219 / 212 on 2/17/21

Outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation
Diaz-Balart — No; Donalds — No
HR 5 passed 224 / 206 on 2/25/21

Protecting America’s wilderness and public lands
Diaz-Balart — No; Donalds — No
HR 803 passed 227/200 on 2/26/21

District 25: Mario Diaz-Balart

District 19: Byron Donalds

Local News Reported in This Post Is by:
Maria Lamb, Steve Stefanides (Coastal Breeze News); Tim Aten (Florida Weekly); Jake Allen, Britany Carloni, Rachel Fradette, Omar Rodriguez Ortiz, Karl Schneider (Naples Daily News); Christy Soto (NBC-2 News); David Dorsey, Bill Smith, Amy Bennett Williams (The News-Press); and Rachel Cox-Rosen, Taylor Smith, Gina Tomlinson (WINK News)

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