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Naples Square Article

Naples Square Rezone OK’d for Grand Central Station Property

Naples City Council on Wednesday voted 6-1 to approve a rezone petition for Naples Square, the 300-unit residential development planned for the old Grand Central Station property downtown.

Council’s approval paves the way for a new, mixed-use development consisting of four multiple-family residential buildings and future commercial structures at 300 Goodlette-Frank Road.

Prior to approval, attorney John Passidomo, who is representing the developers of the project, addressed council’s concerns regarding ongoing street maintenance, stormwater management and the development’s proximity to Naples Municipal Airport.

Passidomo said the developer would attend to street maintenance for three years, ensure stormwater quality, volume and pretreatment, and that prospective purchasers in the development would be notified about the airport.

Councilwoman Teresa Heitmann cast the lone dissenting vote on the issue.

“I really think this is something that needs to be addressed, the stormwater,” said Heitmann, pushing for the developer to provide further assurances about the quality of stormwater discharge.

“I’m sure you’re aware of the Conservancy (of Southwest Florida) and how they’ve tried to work with you. It would be, I think, unfair for you to ignore your responsibilities.”

Passidomo said the developer would meet all legal requirements regarding stormwater discharge.

“We’ve worked extensively with the Conservancy, we’ve met with the South Florida Management District and we will abide by all their rules and regulations,” he said.

“We draw the line at including a moving target, a standard, that has not been peer-reviewed and has not been adopted the rule of law. With all due respect, it’s not a standard invited by law, it’s not a standard that has seen the light of day, and it would establish an extremely dangerous precedent.”

Councilman Sam Saad said that since the city would be able to periodically inspect the stormwater discharge, he had no problem with the development moving forward.

“I’m comfortable with it,” he said.

Passidomo said the developer is prepared to start digging shovels into the earth.

“This is a product of years’ worth of work,” he said. “We’ve met with everybody with an interest in the project, and now we’re looking forward to getting to work.”

Matthew Kragh of MHK Architecture & Planning offered an inside look at some of the landscaping planned for the development.

“We’re proposing a mixture of tall, narrow trees,” he said. “Slash pines, Washingtonias and cabbage palms, which will grow to 30 to 40 feet high. Typically, they’re 20 to 25 feet tall when they’re planted, and we believe this will be a very positive image for the city.”

In other action, council voted 5-1 to approve a $400 monthly stipend for Mayor John Sorey and a $200 monthly stipend for the six council members, for a total yearly expenditure of $19,200.

Sorey makes $30,000 a year for his mayoral duties, while council members receive $23,500.

City Manager Bill Moss said the stipend is meant to offset a variety of expenses.

“It’s for associated business expenses, gas, cell phones, events in the community and other expenditures,” he said.

Councilman Gary Price wasn’t present for the vote, and Heitmann cast the lone dissenting vote on that issue, too.

“We’re in fiscally struggling time where we work hard to save money in the budget,” she said. “Even though I pay a lot of expenses out of my own pocket, and it can get costly, I didn’t think a stipend was justified.”

The stipend will go into effect in February 2014.