Uproar over proposed church in Collier County

Posted at 6:36 PM, Jan 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-26 19:12:42-05

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- As Collier County Commissioners considered Tuesday whether or not to allow a proposed church to be built in a Golden Gate Estates neighborhood, nearby residents voiced their opposition.

"I'm not opposed to churches in any way," Jackie Thomas, who lives on nearby Napa Woods Way, told commissioners. "I think what they're doing is wonderful. But just please don't bring it into our neighborhood."

Summit Church, which has locations in Fort Myers and the Gateway area in Lee County, wants to build a new church between Pine Ridge Road and Napa Woods Way, just east of I-75. 

Lisa Jarrett, who also lives on Napa Woods Way, said she has concerns over links on Summit Church's Web site that offer help to people dealing with addictions to sex and alcohol.

"It says they do a lot of sexual classes, that are not something you would want in a residential neighborhood," Jarrett said.

"Those are actually links that take people to groups that are offered in Fort Myers and Naples, that are not even on any of our facilities," said Johnny Pereira, a pastor with Summit Church.

But Jarrett said that's not was she was told when she called one of those facilities regarding the proposed church in Golden Gate Estates.

"The lady said,'yes, yes, we'll have classes there, for sexual problems, et cetera,'" Jarrett said. "And they're going to walk down my road with my four children out there playing."

"That's been a gross misrepresentation of what reality is," Pereira said.

Pereira said that Summit Church wants to be a good neighbor, and would only provide access to their church from Pine Ridge Road, not the residential Napa Woods Way.

He added that his church doesn't turn people away based on their addictions.

"If we ever get to the point where we have to have someone fill out a questionnaire on whether or not they come into the doors of our church, I think that's a dark day," he said.

Still, residents urged commissioners not to approve the church for the residentially-zoned area.

"We want to keep our neighborhood healthy and strong," Jackie Thomas said. "We want our property values to be stable. Anyone living on this kind of street would feel the same way."

The Board of Commissioners is expected to make a final decision on whether to allow Summit Church to build on the property at their next meeting on February 9.