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Florida golf course deal nixed due to assessments

Florida golf course deal nixed due to assessments

NAPLES, Florida – Collier commissioners have rejected a proposed settlement that could have saved the Riviera Golf Course in East Naples from development.

The decision followed a straw poll of the surrounding community, which showed an overwhelming majority of its residents didn’t support the terms of the potential compromise.

In the opinion poll, residents of Riviera Golf Estates were asked whether they supported setting up a special district to purchase and maintain the closed golf course as passive, open recreational land, and funding it through annual assessments divided among the lot owners in the community, based on their benefits.

The county sent out 690 surveys. Of the 475 who answered it, 415 – or more than 87% – responded “no.”

After hearing the results at a county commission meeting earlier this month, Commissioner Dan Kowal, who represents the area, said it didn’t make sense to move forward with the settlement based on the “voice of the people.” He motioned to “move on,” and to not consider creating a special taxing district.

Commissioner Burt Saunders seconded the motion to reject the offer – and it passed unanimously.

The offer came out of a mediation hearing last spring, hashed out by lawyers for the county and the developer, with input from representatives of the Riviera Golf Estates homeowners association.

It could have resolved a $14 million property rights claim, prevented a lawsuit – and put a stop to development.

Nearly a year ago, 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.

Naples land use attorney Rich Yovanovich, who represents the developers, declined to comment about the failed settlement, or about his client’s next steps.

More: Riviera Golf Club course in East Naples to close April 30; neighbors hope to keep view

Residents saw settlement as unfair

In explaining why most residents didn’t support the proposal, Tricia Campbell, president of the Riviera Golf Estates Homeowners Association, told the county commission they felt it unfair. Under the agreement, the county would have purchased the property for $5.8 million, but the homeowners would have been required to pay the county back in full, and to cover maintenance and repairs, through annual…


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