The Collier County Board of Commissioners first February meeting was held on the ninth and again, the Commissioners had a full day. Here’s a recap.
The morning was dominated by a presentation on amending the Heritage Bay Planned Unit Development (P.U.D) Ordinance No. 03-40 with Staff recommending not to approve the amendment. The issue revolves around Limestone Trail, the private road that residents of The Quarry and Heritage Bay use to access their communities and the nearby Commercial Activity Center. Recent new developments, along with major County road changes, have given rise to concerns that there will be increased public traffic on Limestone Trail. The amendment will allow them to install gates on Limestone and therefore cutoff the ability for the public to use that as a cut-through to the nearby Commercial Activity Center. The county would like to see Limestone Trail become a public right-of-way.
The decision was made to approve the amendment. Limestone Trail will remain private and a gate will be allowed. Government overreach and just “taking the land” was one of the reasons cited. Commissioners also wanted to let communities know they will protect their neighborhoods.
After lunch, the Commissioners moved right into the full hearing on the Big Cypress Basin Expansion. This full hearing was requested by the Board during their last meeting in order to make a proper response to Senate Bill 406 and companion House Bill 209, both in the process of being heard in committee. Staff reviewed the bills and noted that three major technical deficiencies currently exist but do have a high likelihood of being corrected during the bill amendment process. What remains are policy issues that have not been resolved. Again, some of these policy issues could be resolved by rule making and legislative policy but answers still are needed to address ongoing concerns. All Commissioners agree with the spirit of the bill but have differing opinions on how to get their concerns answered. One approach is agreeing to the bills but noting items need to be fixed. The other is disagreeing with the bills until the items are fixed. Commissioner LoCastro makes a motion to not accept the bill until the concerns are addressed and/or fixed. All agreed with the addition of sending a letter listing the Board’s issues to the state delegates representing Collier County.
Five bridges were recommended for design and construction. The main benefit being better time response for emergency services; the main detriment being the degradation of the neighborhoods where the bridges will be built. Commissioner McDaniel, whose district is where the proposed bridges would be built, made a motion to not accept the proposal unless it was gated for first responder access only. There was no second and so the motion failed. Commissioner Saunders asked for a continuance on the motion to build the bridges so that Staff can conduct an analysis on the traffic impact to the neighborhoods. The continuance passed unanimously.
This summer, Collier County was allocated $67,162, 432 from the Coronavirus Relief Fund as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Sean Callahan, Executive Director of Corporate Business Operations, came with an update on the allocation of the funds. To date, $33 million dollars has made it out to the community on several initiatives including individual assistance, small business relaunch and rehire, child-care facilities, and food assistance programs. There is another $13 million currently in process to be distributed, leaving approximately $21 left to allocate. The Board unanimously approved these programs to receive the balance: Individual Assistance (includes emergency rental assistance, mortgage assistance and water bill assistance), Small Business/Non-Profit Loan Repayment (includes one-time grants to businesses to pay off EIDL loans and water utility bills), Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) includes creating PPE kits for businesses, Senior and Social Service Support, Emergency Food Assistance, and Community Outreach. The Board also commented that they would like more press on the money still available so small businesses that have not taken advantage of what is available can do so.
Kelly Hyland was appointed to the Animal Advisory Board. David Corban and Carl Kuehner were appointed, and Gary Bromley and Brittany Patterson-Weber were re-appointed, to the Conservation Collier Land Acquisition Advisory Committee.
Commissioners are on the fast track to finding the next County Manager. They narrowed down the list to nine applicants and will be giving consideration to the top five. These candidates will now be interviewed by each of the Commissioners over the next two weeks. During the first meeting in March, the candidates will make a 10-minute presentation to the Board with the final decision on who to hire by the second meeting in March.
There is a wealth of information to be found on the county website pertaining to the Board of County Commissioners. Go to www.colliercountyfl.gov and click on “Your Government”. You will see “Board of County Commissioners” at the top of the last column. Selecting that takes you right to the Board of County Commissioners page. Here you can meet all the Commissioners, view upcoming meeting agendas and past meeting minutes, watch the entire meeting via video recaps, petition the Board and more. The Collier County Commissioners meet the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month and can be streamed live via Collier TV. The search bar on top is another convenient way to find the Count Commissioners page and Collier TV Online.