If you go
The Collier County Commission meets beginning at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the commission chambers at the county government complex, corner of Airport-Pulling Road and U.S. 41 East.
NAPLES — A Collier County plan to shore up public access to the beach could end up sunk this week.
County commissioners are set to vote Tuesday on whether to require beachfront property owners who have sand added to their beach with taxpayer money to sign a legal document guaranteeing that they will keep the beach open to the public.
The idea stemmed from a firestorm last year when the Moraya Bay condominium tower attempted to mark off its section of Vanderbilt Beach and close it to the public.
Since then, opposition to the requirement has mounted from the cities of Naples and Marco Island and from various county advisory boards worried it will needlessly complicate beach renourishment projects.
Collier County staff is planning the next major beach renourishment for as soon as 2013, beach project planners say.
County commissioners are adding their voices to the concern over the document, called an easement agreement.
The chances of every beachfront property owner signing the easement is “probably close to zero” and could leave gaps in the beach-widening project that would cause erosion from adjacent beaches, Commissioner Jim Coletta said.
“If that’s the case, it’s unworkable,” Coletta said.
Besides that, the county isn’t facing any overarching problem with beachfront property owners shutting down their beaches, he said.
The easement agreement will only breed resentment from the cities of Naples and Marco Island, he said.
“We don’t want to do anything to upset them,” Coletta said.
Under state law, beachfront property owners own the sandy part of the beach out to an erosion control line established for beach renourishment projects.
After the Moraya Bay debacle, Commissioner Tom Henning pushed unsuccessfully for the access easement for an emergency restoration at two stretches of beach in North Naples.
He said that he’s changed his mind with a ruling by a federal judge in Pensacola earlier this month. The judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Destin beachfront condo owners who claimed the city of Destin and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office violated their rights by not enforcing criminal trespass laws on their beach.
While the ruling only indirectly addresses the question of whether the condo owners can keep people off the beach, Henning said it makes the Collier County easement unnecessary.
“The public already has the right to put a beach umbrella and a chair on the beach above the high water line,” he said.