Bonita Bubbles' zoning request burst at Monday hearing

A Bonita Springs storage company lost its zoning request but another business and a city-owned development were successful Monday.

City Council members who sit on the zoning board allowed for the rezoning of city-owned Imperial Landing from solely a mobile home residential designation to a mix planned development. The approval allows the possibility of 102 multi-family units and 32,000 square feet of commercial space with the stipulation of a 50-foot setback from the Imperial River.

But council members decided against allowing the owner of Bonita Bubbles, RTN Holdings, Inc., to add commercial space for the addition of retail and RV and boat self-storage on the property upon which the car wash currently sits.

The six council members and mayor Ben Nelson were greeted at City Hall, 9101 Bonita Beach Road, on Monday morning by an overflow crowd of more than 100 peole consisting primarily of Pelican Landing and Leisure Time Park residents who were there to protest Bonita Bubbles’ request.

At 24296 and 24300 U.S. 41 S., the 6.94-acre site is bordered on the south by Leisure Time Park, a 106-unit mobile home park for senior citizens. Pelican Landing, which contains around 3,000 homes, is directly across Walden Center Avenue from the proposed Bonita Bubbles Storage site, which the owners planned to use for RV and boat storage and retail use or a mini-storage facility and retail.

After more than three hours of testimony from both sides, District One councilman Richard Ferreira, in whose district the site is located, called Bonita Bubbles request and primary plan “disastrous” and made a motion to deny the company’s request.

Before the council voted, Ferreira said in his four years in office he had “not seen a project more incompatible with a surrounding neighborhood.”

The council voted 7-0 to deny the request with out prejudice much to the delight of the crowd.

“It was a great decision,” said Walter McCarthy of Pelican Landing. From 1993-2001, McCarthy served as the zoning director for Lee County.

“There were serious concerns with noise, traffic and lighting. We’ll monitor this throughout the process.”

Because the denial was without prejudice, Bonita Bubbles would be allowed to bring its case before the City Council again within a year.

However, Fred Drovdlic, a vice president for Fort Myers-based Quattrone and Associates and who represented Bonita Bubbles, indicated that the company will withdraw its request. He also said that Bonita Bubbles would proceed with its plan to develop the 70,000 square feet of commercial space the site is zoned for RV and boat storage use.

“The request would have given us additional space for retail,” Drovdlic said. “We wanted to increase the square footage by a minimum of 20 percent. Now we’re going to build 70,000 feet of boat storage without any conditions.”

After much wrangling, the council cleared the way for Ohio developer Ron Sabatino to take the next step in creating Angler’s Paradise, a 28-acre proposed residential and commercial planned development on the west side of U.S. 41 just north of the Bonita Beach Road intersection.

Sabatino bought the land for Angler’s Paradise in 2003. On Monday he received permission to get his rezoning plan approved after years of negotiations with the city. He was represented by Robert Pritt of Roetzel and Andress. Pritt is also attorney for the City of Naples.

With the council sensitive to building near the Imperial River and with bald eagle nests on the site, the council, Sabatino’s representatives and the opposition haggled over details such as minimum setback footage from the river, and how closely they could build to trees containing eagle’s nests.

City Council also approved a special exemption request by Cozy Wine and Spirits to serve wine tastings in its store.

E-mail Scott Clair at

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