Land, red lights among topics at Tuesday's Collier commission meeting

— All brownfields are not created equal.

A federal designation coined during the height of the nation’s environmental cleanup initiatives, a brownfield refers to land that was chemically soiled and requires intensive remediation. A state brownfield initiative was subsequently adopted to help small businesses in 2002.

It will be up to Collier County commissioners this morning to decide whether a bit more than half an acre along Bayshore Drive is contaminated enough to qualify for a state redevelopment program. Designation comes with state, and federal, financial assistance, but also invites the state and federal government to come snooping around in Collier’s backyard.

Designation is voluntary.

The staff request is included in the consent agenda, a package of issues and items that can be approved with no discussion and one vote.

Sitting in the midst of some 35 acres of land now owned by the Bayshore Gateway Community Redevelopment Agency’s is a 0.63-acre parcel at 4315 Bayshore Dr. that once was a repair shop, called Hubert’s Welding & Repair Facility.

According to county officials, underground storage of lead-based gasoline was part of the business from 1969 to 1980, so the site might be eligible for state and brownfields designation.

When the tanks were closed and removed, certain state administrative codes were not yet in place, including documentation that the soil and groundwater in the area were assessed.

That means there might be some contamination, according to Environmental Risk Management, one independent firm hired in 2008 by the county.

Might is the operative word.

According to the executive summary prepared by CRA Executive Director David Jackson, brownfield designation does not imply environmental contamination; rather, the designation indicates that the site is abandoned, idled, or undercapitalized, and which may be contaminated or may be merely perceived to be contaminated.

In addition to determining how dirty county land might have been, commissioners will address a number of other issues this morning as follows:

■ Revision of fines for the county’s Intersection Safety Ordinance, which could also include the latest furor over red-light cameras. The three-tiered fine structure is proposed at $62.50 for the first offense, $125 for the second, and $250 for the third. That is assuming all three offenses were committed in a period of five years.

■ The proposed 2010 legislation agenda will be discussed, and followed up on Wednesday in a pre-legislative workshop. During the trying economic times in the past few years, commissioners have been concerned with state mandates: laws that must be enforced but for which no financial assistance is provided.

■ Additional taxes are also the subject of one public petitioner’s proposed pitch to the commission today.

Collier County resident Duane Billington wants commission assistance in controlling a surtax for fire rescue or emergency medical services. A surtax is a tax on a tax. Billington says the state law is written in a way that can be considered coercion.

The new Florida law enables fire and rescue service providers to apply for an additional 1 percent tax. The tax would be collected by the state, which would retain a 3 percent administrative fee, and send the balance back to the county. The county would then collect up to a 2 percent administrative fee, then divide the remainder among eligible providers.

■ Another public petitioner could command some attention. Michele Antonia, of the Collier Community Cat Coalition, will ask commissioners to change animal control ordinances to introduce more humane and effective control of the county’s homeless cat situation. Many of the homeless cats in the county have been abandoned. Antonia proposes a trap, neuter and return program, to prevent new homeless cat colonies from being formed. The coalition would enter into a partnership with the county’s Domestic Animal Services (DAS) department and serve as a liaison between citizen cat-colony caretakers, and the DAS.

■ Employees will ask commissioners to close out – or sign off on – 20 planned unit developments that county employees say are in compliance.

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