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Conservancy of SW Florida files lawsuit against Collier County

Posted at 8:31 PM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 20:31:37-04

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is suing Collier County to stop a housing development the county recently approved.

The Conservancy says the development of Rivergrass Village in Eastern Collier County is unlawful, burdens taxpayers, and impacts panther habitat.

"It's illegal urban sprawl; it's another gated community we don't need," said Brian Israel, attorney for The Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

The lawsuit claims Rivergrass Village Stewardship Receiving Area (SRA) is inconsistent with the RLSA policies in Collier County's Growth Management Plan and Land Development Code.

The Conservancy says this development goes against Collier County's Rural Lands Stewardship Area (RLSA) program, designed to protect agricultural lands, direct development away from wetlands and wildlife habitat, and to avoid urban sprawl.

"Rivergrass village will destroy 700 acres of Florida panther habitat," said Israel.

Israel says the development of Rivergrass village could also cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

"The development has to pay for growth by offsetting the cost of infrastructure, roads, hospitals, schools, etc. The County Planning Commissioners were concerned Rivergrass Village would not offset all of those additional costs," said Israel.

"Rivergrass consultants provided a report showing that their development would be economically neutral; however, they failed to provide the underlying calculations that proved that what they said was true."

Israel says the Collier County Planning Commission voted 4-to-1 against the development, but the Board of Collier County Commissioners approved Rivergrass Village by a 3-to-2 vote on January 28, 2020.

To learn more about the lawsuit, click here.