A New Perspective 02-15-2001: Golden Gate Master Plan

Golden Gate Gazette

February 15, 2001

County staff said wait. Commission Chair Jim Carter said wait. A local development attorney and a development planner said wait.
But Golden Gate Commissioners Jim Coletta, District 5, and Tom Henning, District 3, said rural Golden Gate residents can’t wait any longer to update their master plan because of commercial growth pressures.
“We can’t tell people they’re going to have to wait forever,” he told the other commissioners at the Feb. 13 commission meeting. “The people out there are demanding certain services…. We’re going to need the help of the Commission to draw the line.”
Coletta was the chairman of a 1988 community effort that penned the first Golden Gate Area Master Plan (GGAMP), adopted by the county in 1991. At the time, the 150 square miles of platted Golden Gate Estates was nearly all zoned residential with certain agricultural allowances. One commercial center of seven acres??? was designated at the intersection of Randall Boulevard and Immokalee Road.
In order to address future growth, four neighborhood centers were included on the Golden Gate Area Future Land Use Map (FLUM) of the 1991 GGAMP, allowing residential property to be slated for limited commercial development when demand warranted. These nodes included 10 acres on the west side of the intersection of Pine Ridge Road and CR #951, and 20 acres at the intersections of Golden Gate and Wilson Boulevards, Golden Gate and Everglades Boulevards and Golden Gate Boulevard and Desoto Boulevards???.
However, in 1994, due to community pressure against commercial development in the rural Estates, the three latter neighborhood centers were removed from the FLUM??.
Recently, there have been several proposals to rezone residential Estates lots – not included in the FLUM — to allow for commercial development.
The planning commission and board of county commissioners have approved one of these and turned another down, urging restraint until the county-funded Dover-Kohl future of Collier County planning study is completed.
The Dover-Kohl project, to be unveiled at the Golden Gate Estates Area Civic Association, Feb. 21, proposes concepts and strategies to improve future residential and commercial development in the county. Golden Gate Estates was an area looked as specific model.
Coletta told Feb. 13 commission meeting attendants he gets calls all the time from people who want some commercial development in the Estates. Without updating the master plan to address the commercial issue, he said he feared haphazard conversion of residential to commercial property in rural areas.
“It’s certainly a different Golden Gate than it was,” he said, arguing for the GGAMP to be moved up.
Heated debates over the commercialization of residential property have become common at Golden Gate Estates Area Civic Association (GGEACA) meetings over the last couple years.
“We want Golden Gate Estates to be a nice place to live, not a speculator’s paradise,” Estates Civic Association member Pat Humphries told commissioners.
County manager Tom Oliff and comprehensive planning services director Stan Lipsinger cautioned commissioners that county staff have their hands full with other planning projects and could not tackle the GGAMP now without other plans suffering.
“If we’re short-staffed I think we owe it to the public to hire someone,” he said.
After hearing Coletta and Henning’s arguments, Commissioners voted unanimously to hire a consultant and work toward a May 2002 updated Golden Gate Master Plan.
If the GGAMP were updated now, it would still have to wait for the county to finish its rural fringe study before it could be completed, according to Oliff and Lipsinger.
The county is under a Florida Governor-imposed building moratorium on its rural agricultural lands until it can come up with better protections for water and wildlife in its comprehensive plan. The Final Order for submitting new development criteria as part of Collier County’s Comprehensive Plan is August 2002.
Since part of the rural fringe land is adjacent to platted Golden Gate – including northern Belle Meade and the Immokalee corridor — Lipsinger said he anticipates it will affect the GGAMP and maybe even redefine what is called the Golden Gate Area.