Q: I live in East Naples, not far from U.S. 41 and Rattlesnake Hammock Road. Every weekday, for about three weeks now, we have heard and felt the residual vibrations from loud booms in our neighborhood. They actually feel like vibrations from earthquakes! Is it possible that what we hear and feel is from blasting at what will be The Isles of Collier Preserve — formerly known as Sabal Bay — located behind the Publix at Hammock Cove at U.S. 41 and Thomasson Drive?
Also, The Isles construction team has been clearing out brush by burning. I thought that purposely setting fires in the dry season was prohibited but, since the flames are really visible from U.S. 41 and Rattlesnake Hammock, I’m thinking they must have a permit to do so, or at least everybody assumes they do.
Can’t wait for the booms to stop! Any feedback you can provide is welcome.
— Sandy, East Naples
A: Chances are the afternoon booms you hear from your East Naples home are from blasting work being done to excavate nearby land for The Isles of Collier Preserve residential development.
Minto Communities LLC, the Canadian company developing the 2,400-acre property, paid $1,500 for a one-year blasting permit which began in late January for excavation of the Sabal Bay planned unit development, Collier County records show. Although the more than 1,600-home community will be known as The Isles of Collier Preserve, the name of the long-planned PUD remains Sabal Bay.
The county has authorized the blasting to fracture rock for the creation of stormwater treatment ponds. The blasts usually occur around 3 p.m. weekdays, said William Bullock, a vice president for Minto in Florida.
Basically, crews drill holes, drop a charge in, detonate it underground, and then use backhoes to remove the fractured rock, Bullock said.
Despite the length of the permit, blasting will not last a year, Bullock, said, although he did not know exactly how long the actual work would continue. He said it depends on weather conditions and other factors.
“I don’t see us blasting for a year straight,” he said. “There’s not enough out there to blast.”
Minto also has secured a burning permit for “very controlled clearing burns” of vegetation at the future development, Bullock said.
“Everything is highly regulated,” he said. “They are not just like open burning the area. It’s pretty controlled.”
The company must consider daily conditions, including humidity levels and wind speeds, before initiating any controlled burns.
More than 60 percent of the total project, or about 1,500 acres, will be preserves, lakes and natural habitat, Bullock said. Miles of nature trails will be available for hiking, biking and even kayaking.
In addition to blasting for the ongoing development of The Isles, recent sonic booms have been traced to shock waves caused by fighter jets from Naval Air Station Key West breaking the sound barrier during training over the Gulf. Recent cool, clear weather conditions allowed these sonic booms to travel farther than they normally do. These disturbances have been heard this month over a wide area of Southwest Florida at various times of the day and night, news partner NBC-2 reports.
Q: I’ve noticed a construction crew has cleared out all of the trees and brush on Thomasson Drive between U.S. 41 and Avalon Elementary. Any idea what they are planning to build?
— Jim, East Naples
A: You are seeing the northern tip of The Isles of Collier Preserve future residential development in East Naples. As noted in the first question above, clearing recently began for the massive community.
From Thomasson Drive, the 2,400-acre development wraps around the Shoppes at Hammock Cove at Thomasson and U.S. 41 East, and follows U.S. 41 to the Treviso Bay golf community. Its eastern edge borders Treviso Bay, and its southern border abuts the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Westward from Thomasson, The Isles will wrap around East Naples Community Park and Avalon Elementary School, as well as the existing homes on the southern extension of Bayshore Drive, including Naples Botanical Garden. The future community’s western border extends to Dollar Bay, just south of Gordon Pass and Naples Bay.
A sales center is set to open this fall on the property’s main boulevard off U.S. 41 East, Bullock said. Model homes are expected to be open this time next year, and the development will be built during the next decade.
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