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Reporting from Bar Harbor, Maine:
NAPLES — Collier County commissioners will not vote Tuesday on a request from Barron Collier Cos. to move 50 acres of commercial zoning in Ave Maria to accommodate the proposed Jackson Laboratory project at the request of the land developer.
Instead, the commission is tentatively scheduled to discuss and vote on the zoning at its Feb. 22 meeting, according to county spokesman John Torre.
Blake Gable, vice president of Barron Collier, said he and his staff decided to withdraw the zoning amendment for moving the 50 acres of commercial zoning at Camp Keais Road to Oil Well Road in order to look at the bigger project envisioned.
He said withdrawing the zoning amendment was not due to Jackson Lab last week pulling its application to the state for first-year funding of $50 million. Barron Collier had pledged last year to donate the 50 acres to Jackson and set aside several hundred more acres for a larger biomedical park.
The Oil Well site is where Jackson proposed to build an institute for personalized medicine and create 244 jobs over 10 years. Another aspect of the project called for Jackson to serve as an anchor to help develop a larger biomedical research park.
“The overall move of the commercial zoning from Camp Keais to Oil Well is something we have talked about for years and, in hindsight, we should have done it in the first place,” Gable said.
Another item on the board’s agenda that has been deferred involved seeking approval for a final plat for the Eastern Collier Research Park, which is how Barron Collier is calling the biomedical research park project.
Gable said a different site is not being considered for Jackson, if the Maine-based genetics research lab resubmits a new application to the state. Jackson officials said last week they plan to meet with Gov. Rick Scott to revamp the project so it would garner his support. At the same time, Jackson officials said last week they don’t plan to scale back on the original combined budget of seeking $130 million each from Collier and the state.
Commission Chairman Fred Coyle said Barron Collier sees no rush to move forward with the zoning amendment since Jackson’s decision last week to withdraw its application to the state.
Coyle said he doesn’t know what Jackson officials plan to do and he hasn’t spoken with them since they announced they were withdrawing the application.
“The only way we will find out is when (they) have a conversation with the governor and his staff,” Coyle said.
Connect with health-care reporter Liz Freeman at www.naplesnews.com/staff/liz_freeman