Collier BCC denies church to build in Estates

Posted at 6:49 PM, Feb 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-09 18:49:32-05

For the second Collier County Commission meeting in a row, people living on Napa Woods Way in Golden Gate Estates told commissioners they don't want Summit Church to build on a 4-acre lot adjacent to their street.

"This is a residential community," resident Gary Grosser told the board. "Providing approval of this project will change the character and integrity of our neighborhood."

The discussion was continued from the last board meeting on January 26, when residents living on Napa Woods Way, just east of I-75 and one block south of Pine Ridge Road, raised concerns about something they found on Summit Church's Web site: links to other Web sites where people dealing with addictions to everything from alcohol and sex can find treatment.

"On their Web site, it says they do a lot of sexual classes, that are not something you would want in a residential neighborhood," neighbor Lisa Jarrett said at that meeting.

But Summit Church Pastor Johnny Pereira said that those "classes" wouldn't take place at the church.

"We're a church that addresses people's sin problems, and we all have sin," Pereira said. "There's no perfect person that enters a church."

Commissioners Tom Henning, Tim Nance and Georgia Hiller argued that the property could legally be re-zoned for non-residential use. But in Collier County, zoning issues need a super-majority vote. Donna Fiala and Penny Taylor cast the dissenting votes, meaning Summit Church will have to lead their flock elsewhere.

"We're thrilled," resident Shirley Ruder said. "It's really nice to have commissioners listen to you."

"We're not discouraged," said Pastor Johnny Pereira. "We know that if this isn't the property, God's got something else out there for us."

Summit Church has locations in Fort Myers and Estero. They currently hold Sunday services in Naples at Barron Collier High School.