3 file suit to stop tabulation of Immokalee master plan vote

William DeShazer/Staff
A man rides his bike down Main Street in Immokalee on Thursday Aug. 2, 2012. Many residents are concerned the that the plan would would support the Florida Department of Transportation's plan to build a bypass route to create direct access from State Road 82 to State Road 29 from the Immokalee Regional Airport and the Florida Tradeport.

Photo by WILLIAM DESHAZER // Buy this photo

William DeShazer/Staff A man rides his bike down Main Street in Immokalee on Thursday Aug. 2, 2012. Many residents are concerned the that the plan would would support the Florida Department of Transportation's plan to build a bypass route to create direct access from State Road 82 to State Road 29 from the Immokalee Regional Airport and the Florida Tradeport.

One day before voters head to the polls, three Collier residents have sued the county to keep the Immokalee Master Plan amendment from being tabulated.

Donna Yzagurre, Clayton Walker and Pam Brown filed suit against Collier County and Collier County Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards in Collier Circuit Court Monday seeking an injunction over the master plan amendment.

The suit asks a judge to decide that the referendum's language is misleading and fails to inform the voting public of what they are voting on. It asks Edwards not to tabulate the vote on the master plan in Tuesday's election.

The suit also asks that the county pay the attorney's fees for the plaintiffs.

Voters living in the Immokalee urban area are asked to vote on a straw ballot that asks, "Do you support the amendments to the Immokalee Area Master Plan and the Immokalee Area Master Plan Future Land Use Map as voted on at the Collier County Board of Commissioners' meeting on December 13, 2011?"

The referendum is nonbinding, which means that the results will not determine whether the master plan moves forward. The Collier County commissioners will vote on the master plan amendment in September and a supermajority vote — four of five commissioners — is required to send it to the state.

The suit claims the ballot question "inaccurately suggests to voters that the amendments passed by the vote of the (commissioners), when in fact it failed to pass."

Collier County commissioners failed to pass the master plan on Dec. 13 with a 3-1 vote. Commissioner Georgia Hiller voted against the amendment and Commissioner Tom Henning abstained from the vote.

The suit also states that the ballot is misleading because it could elicit two contradicting interpretations — either that the voters support the master plan amendment and the map, or that they support the amendment and map as voted on by the commissioners, which failed to pass.

The ballot question also is misleading because it does not inform the voters that their response does not have an official effect, and it provides nothing except a reference to the amendment, according to the suit.

The Supervisor of Elections Office had no comment on the suit Monday afternoon.

Brown declined to comment, and attempts to reach Steven Bracci, the attorney for the three plaintiffs, were not successful.

The suit will not stop Immokalee residents from voting on the master plan amendment, as early voting has concluded and the ballots for Tuesday's election have been printed.

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