NORTH NAPLES — Neighbors' concerns have slowed down efforts to build a new car dealership on the present site of an amusement center in North Naples.
Owners of the land that's now home to King Richard's amusement center on Airport-Pulling Road have applied to Collier County government to change the zoning at the 11.3-acre family park to a 65,000-square-foot automobile dealership with related repair services at 6780 Airport-Pulling Road N.
The application was heard Thursday morning by the Collier County Planning Commission. Initially, the petition presented Thursday by Tim Hancock, director of planning at Davidson Engineering Inc., and attorney Bruce Anderson, representing owners of the park Bic's Investment Corp., received approval.
But the owners came back shortly after lunch requesting reconsideration.
"After receiving a 6-2 approval from the Collier planning commission, it was our opinion that some of the issues raised at the hearing could be addressed better and differently," Hancock said after the meeting. "And in doing so, I think we have the opportunity to gain additional support from the planning commission and the community."
Hancock said plans are to follow up with residents and to continue to hear their concerns, which include noise and lighting, to see if there are reasonable ways to address those and explain with more clarity how the business will operate.
These two weeks will allow the owners to address questions raised by planning commissioners and residents.
"I think it's an opportunity to clarify what really does and does not happen at a modern automobile dealership," Hancock said after the meeting.
The earliest the land would be developed is sometime late this year with completion scheduled for the first quarter of 2014, he said.
Currently, the development rules on the property allow for an amusement park, but not a car dealership.
Planning Commission Chairman Mark Strain, one of two who voted against the project at the morning hearing, said during a break in the meeting that he is pleased the project development team is willing to meet with residents and work out the differences.
Top Hat Holdings LLC has a contract to buy the property and develop it, subject to the county's approval of rezoning for the property.
The dealership would employ 40 workers.
The proposed dealership could reduce traffic in weekday peak hour trips by 119 trips daily, according to county staff.
Some residents of Walden Oaks, adjacent to King Richard's, were upset about losing one of the few places in the Naples area for children to play.
Annette Mantia is opposed to replacing the park with a dealership.
Mantia, who has lived at Walden Oaks for 17 years, said the community should have a place for children.
"It's a family place," she said during a break in the meeting. "I love King Richard's, maybe because I have a grandchild."
Mantia said she also enjoys playing miniature golf at the park.
Some neighbors aren't concerned about a car dealership going there.
John Deangelis, of Deangelis Diamond Construction Inc., said he would prefer a dealership at the site rather than noise from go-carts and high-pitched screams.
"Whatever is placed on this property that isn't what is there now, in my opinion is going to be a better use of what is there now," said Deangelis, whose office is next to King Richard's.
The request is scheduled for a public hearing before the planning board on Thursday, Feb. 7. The Collier County Commission would ultimately have to OK the plan in March.