With population figures in the Golden Gate Estates area expected to quadruple, Collier County’s Community Planning Section is about to begin a restudy of the Golden Gate Area Master Plan -- the first of its kind in a decade.
The restudy process will include a series of public meetings, starting Wednesday.
About 100,000 people live east of Collier Boulevard, but county officials say that number could grow by an additional 300,000 to 400,000 before it's completely built out.
“Around here there's no crime, most of the people, we know each other so it's nice to live over here,” said Ernesto Alicia, a current resident.
Another long-term resident, Annette Kaniola, is on the board of the Golden Gate Estates Civic Association, which is also hosting Wednesday’s meeting on future development.
“Everybody still wants the rural feel, I certainly want it," she said. "You can tell I live on two-and-a-half acres and it's very quiet."
Still, she admitted she wouldn’t mind some more conveniences closer to home.
“Like Home Depot. I’ve got to go run in there today because I'm painting," she said. "So I’ve got to go run into there, it's what, 12-15 miles away to go do that?”
Publix is building a store at the corner of Immokalee Road and Randall Boulevard, which Kaniola is excited about.
But she knows a lot that would need to be done to control development and plan for more people.
“I do want commercial development, but, we want to do it right,” she said. “We're way behind the times as far as the roads go and infrastructure.”
Many people in the Estates use well water and septic tanks -- systems that might need to be expanded or upgraded with more homes.
“If they buy property and they want to build a home you can’t stop them. I mean that's what I did,” Alicia said.
Another voice weighing in will likely belong to Nancy Payton of the Florida Wildlife Federation.
“Our long time long-held concern about northern Golden Gate Estates is that there's no green infrastructure planned,” she said. "There's no plan for wetlands that would aid with storm water."
Kaniola said so many issues will mean the restudy could take years.
“I am big on the wildlife that's also why I moved out here. I don't want to push them any further, I don't want them to get killed," she said. "But I do understand we do have to grow and we do have to accommodate growth.”
The Collier County Board of County Commissioners has initiated a series of evaluations (called restudies) of several areas in eastern Collier County over the next four years. These areas are established in the county’s Growth Management Plan and include.
1. The Rural Fringe Mixed-Use District (RFMUD), which is 77,000 acres east of Collier Boulevard and north of U.S. 41;
2. The Golden Gate Area Master Plan;
3. Rural Lands Stewardship Area, which is 195,000 acres that encompass land surrounding Immokalee; and
4. The Immokalee Area Master Plan.
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