I am writing you today in my position as President of the Florida 501c3 non-profit, Save Vanderbilt Beach Inc out of a concern both for the health of citizens of Collier County and for the constitutional rights of these same citizens to enter sworn testimony at public meetings held by Collier County.
Specifically, I am focused on yet-to-be scheduled hearings to be held by the Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners regarding the application being made by Stock Development for the rezoning of the 5.42 acre tract at the northeast corner of Vanderbilt Beach Road and Gulfshore Drive commonly known as the One Naples project. The County planning staff will soon issue their report to the Planning Commission regarding the development, and the Planning Commission will soon be scheduling its public hearing.
On March 3, before COVID19 was widely understood and before the state’s safer at home rules took effect, Stock Development held its required Neighborhood Information Meeting, and Save Vanderbilt Beach Inc was able to motivate more than 400 County residents attended to express their opposition to the One Naples development. Since then the number of people who have registered with us, and who oppose the development in its current form, has grown from 650 to more than 1,000
Hundreds of citizens wish to take an active role in their local government by attending the planning commission and county commission public hearings and making their opposition to One Naples known. It is likely that at least 500 people, and possibly more, will wish to participate. We are concerned about creating an unhealthy super-spreader event in Collier County by holding an in-person quasi-judicial zoning and legislative plan amendment hearing that will be attended by many hundreds of individuals.
Wednesday morning’s headline in the Naples Daily News read “State’s virus spike not slowing.” Covid19 cases are now being contact-traced to events that are even smaller than this public hearing. There is no safe way that hundreds of people can be accommodated with proper social distancing and be given their constitutional right to be heard. Virtual appearances are not appropriate for those who have supporting physical presentations and no social media platform is designed that will give many hundreds of people a fair chance to be heard and seen.
Because of these realities, we ask that the upcoming hearings relating to the Stock application be postponed indefinitely until such time as it is possible to safely hear from all those with opinions about the project.
Thank you for your consideration.
Cc: Leo Ochs, Jeffrey Klatzkow, Collier County Board of County Commissioners, Collier County Planning Commission Members