Immokalee board seeks compromise with Henning on master plan

Commissioner Tom Henning listens to discussion of the proposed Immokalee Master Plan during the Collier County Commission meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. After four hours of debate and public commentary, Collier County commissioners voted 3 to 2 to continue the master plan amendment vote to the commission meeting on Sept. 25.

Photo by DANIA MAXWELL, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo

Commissioner Tom Henning listens to discussion of the proposed Immokalee Master Plan during the Collier County Commission meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. After four hours of debate and public commentary, Collier County commissioners voted 3 to 2 to continue the master plan amendment vote to the commission meeting on Sept. 25.

— Commissioner Tom Henning wants a compromise on the Immokalee Area Master Plan amendment.

The Immokalee Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board wants to compromise, too. Now board members are asking Henning to compromise on some of his proposed changes.

The CRA board is willing to remove language from the amendment that discusses a State Road 29 bypass, for example. But members are not willing to add a provision in the master plan recognizing non-conforming mobile home parks.

Now, it is up to a super majority — four of five — of the commissioners to decide if they can live with those compromises when the amendment comes up for a vote on Tuesday. The state has imposed a Sept. 27 deadline for the commissioners to approve the amendment or start over again.

At their meeting Wednesday, CRA board members said they had to compromise on at least some of Henning's suggestions if they hoped to get it passed. Henning is seen as the swing vote on the amendment, with commissioners Jim Coletta, Fred Coyle and Donna Fiala supporting the plan. Commissioner Georgia Hiller has not supported the amendment.

"The problem is, if we don't do something, we get nothing," CRA advisory board member Jeffrey Randall said of not compromising. "If we get nothing, we have to go back to square one and start all over. And we don't have the time, unless we can get another extension from the state."

The board's vote Wednesday morning also is asking for compromise from Immokalee residents and business owners, many of whom asked the CRA board to adopt all or none of Henning's recommendations.

"I want to move forward and these changes seem to be moving us back," said Dan Gonzalez, owner of Lozano's Mexican Restaurant. "Commissioner Henning does not represent us. ... It's not his future. It's our future. ... This master plan gives us something. It gives me hope."

Naples businessman Randy Johns and Immokalee property owner Jerry Blocker said they believe the compromises would move the plan forward.

"I don't want to restrict Immokalee. I want it to prosper," said Blocker, who opposes certain parts of the master plan amendment in its current form. "I think the few suggestions Tom Henning put out there move us in the right direction. It will protect people's uses (for their property). Once you give them, you can't take them away."

The CRA advisory board voted to support the following recommendations from Henning:

Removing an area of industrial mixed-use zoning near the Immokalee Airport and returning it to its existing low-residential designation.

Removing the industrial mixed-use zoning designation from an area near the Immokalee Airport and leaving it as its existing commerce center-industrial zoning.

Allowing farmworker labor camps as a zoning use in the commercial district.

Placing a cap on nonresidential density at 7 million square feet, down from a proposed 8.45 million square feet, which was a request made by Hiller.

Changing a policy on long-range transportation improvements to remove language about building a State Road 29 bypass route.

Removing a policy on access from the Immokalee Airport to the future State Road 29 bypass.

The CRA board also rejected the following proposed changes:

A request to remove 103 acres that was added to the Immokalee Urban Area in the amendment to provide for an expansion of the Immokalee Airport runway and save the Airport Authority from having to complete a comprehensive plan amendment should they wish to expand the runway.

A request to insert language that recognizes nonconforming mobile home parks, provides for incentives for owners to upgrade the parks and eliminate substandard units, and provides that mobile home parks in existence before Nov. 13, 1991, are not required to file a site plan revision or agreement with the county should they want to upgrade.

A request to keep the density in the commercial mixed-use subdistrict the same as its current density.

A request that there will be no change on State Road 29 that would result in a reduction of roadway capacity until an alternate route and funding for the alternate route are identified.

A request to remove the long range transportation improvements policy from the plan entirely.

Coletta, who was present at the advisory board meeting Wednesday, said he would support the advisory board's position.

"This is your call," he said. This is your community."

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