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East Naples community vote could decided golf course’s fate

East Naples community vote could decided golf course’s fate

EAST NAPLES, Fla. – A straw vote will give residents of Riviera Golf Estates a voice in the future of the community’s golf course, but it won’t be binding.

After asking for tweaks to the language, Collier County commissioners recently decided to move forward with an opinion poll. It’s a step toward finalizing a proposed settlement that would stop a developer from building on the former golf course, off County Barn Road in East Naples.

The poll in the form of a survey, will hit mailboxes of hundreds of residents in the 55-plus community, where there are 692 homes.

They will be asked whether they support setting up a special district to purchase and maintain the golf course property as passive, open recreational land, and funding it through annual assessments divided among the lot owners in the community, based on their benefits.

Many residents have expressed concerns about the fairness and affordability of the assessments, which county staff is still finalizing in an attempt to ease the burden.

One of the opponents is Marianne Herndon, who told the commission she’s struggling to live day by day.

“You decide do you want dinner, do you want your medication,” she said. “I mean, you have got to remember who you are dealing with here.”

In February, the owners of the golf course property filed a claim under Florida’s Bert Harris property rights act.

La Minnesota Riviera LLC applied to build houses on the 94-acre site, but in their claim they alleged they’d been “inordinately burdened” by the county’s rules for rezoning a golf course.

In April, commissioners voted to explore a compromise that would resolve the $14 million claim, prevent a lawsuit – and put a stop to development.

More about the proposed settlement

Under the settlement, hashed out in a mediation hearing this spring:

  • The county would pay the owners $5.8 million for the property, plus closing costs
  • A special district would be created to reimburse the county for the purchase
  • The district would assess owners in the Riviera subdivision to pay the county back
  • Ultimately, the district would own the property
  • The district would maintain the property and pay for any improvements or repairs

The county hired Carroll & Carroll to determine how residents might be assessed to reimburse the county for its purchase and related acquisition costs, and to cover the current and ongoing maintenance of the property.

Over 10 years, the consultant proposed annual assessments ranging from…


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