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Experts say there are other housing solutions besides building more homes, but it's a trade-off

Golden Gate meeting heated over apartment proposal
Golden Gate proposal.jpg
Posted at 5:24 PM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 11:52:52-04

GOLDEN GATE, Fla.  — A Neighborhood Information Meeting for a potential apartment complex in Golden Gate (NIM) got heated on Monday night, bringing it to a halt. The meeting was about potentially re-zoning a subdivision to allow the construction of a 311-unit apartment complex.

The project comes as experts say the key to solving the affordable housing crisis is high density along with expediting permits and the ease of zoning. Density is the ability to build bigger, like the apartment complex.

With growth, FGCU real estate professor Dr. Shelton Weeks has suggested several solutions.

"To come in and add supply, to grant them [developers] additional density to incentivize them," he said back in May.

That density is what is being proposed in Golden Gate Estates off of Vanderbilt Beach Road and Collier Boulevard. The developer is 13th Floor Investments and Peninsula Engineering.

At that Monday meeting, many residents expressed their views on the zoning rules. Several say they are not on board with the project.

"But what it really comes down to is making sure our county commissioners know that we don’t want apartments in Golden Gate for a number of reasons," said Adam Ricciardielo, a Golden Gate resident.

He says the current low-density rules should not change. That basically means he and other residents get a lot of land — 2.2 acres per home.

According to Collier County, property owners are not required to sell to the developer of the proposed project.

When we asked about the homes currently at the proposed site, the county said,

Below is a diagram of the project area known as Vanderbilt-Collier Planned Unit Development Rezone (PUDZ) and it encompasses 7 parcels, 5 privately owned, 2 Collier County owned.  The three improved properties that are privately owned are circled in red and have voluntarily agreed to sell their property to the developer if the zoning change is approved. 
Courtesy: Collier County

If high-density isn't the answer, Weeks says there is another solution, but it's a trade-off.

"At the end of the day if we don’t provide affordable housing for the folks in our market that need housing, the folks that are supplying critical services – first responders, teachers, things like that – the market can solve this problem, but it solves it usually thorough wage," he explained.

Weeks has said before there isn't one solution to the housing crisis.

“At the end of the day it’s that question of a trade-off," he said. "We know that there’s a housing shortage, so how do we figure this out?"

The lawyer of the applicant for the project provided us with a statement regarding the canceled NIM. He said,

The purpose of last night's meeting was to provide the public with the details of the project. We were not given the opportunity to provide the details of the project, therefore we don’t believe the public fully understands the project and we look forward to the opportunity to explain the details of the project and address any comments or concerns the public has. We believe that the project meets the need to provide reasonably priced housing for nurses, teachers, sheriff’s deputies, which are the backbone of any community and need to live in the community they serve.

Richard Yovanovich, lawyer of applicant

A spokesperson for Peninsula Engineering says at this time, there's no plan at the moment to schedule another neighborhood meeting. County commissioners voted on Tuesday to accept the NIM as the applicant's required meeting by the Land Development Code.

The Collier County Planning Commission is expected to discuss the project at a future date, though that has not yet been determined.*

*CORRECTION: County commissioners will not have a public hearing regarding the re-zoning at the June 28 meeting. This article now reflects the correct information.