Immokalee Master Plan alive and well!
News of the demise of the Immokalee Area Master Plan has been greatly exaggerated.
Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes of internecine political squabbles and bureaucratic overhauls in Tallahassee, the Immokalee Master Plan survives and is – once again – awaiting a simple, final vote of approval by Collier County lawmakers.
The Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA), in a letter to Collier County, says county lawmakers have until December 28 to grant the Immokalee Master Plan its final approval.
Eight years in the making the Immokalee Area Master Plan is a blueprint for Immokalee's future and will fulfill the vision of transforming the community into "Florida in the 21st Century." The plan's highights can be found here. Click on the Master Plan box to the right to read the full plan.
Its journey was stopped a few words and one vote short of final adoption in May when two of the five Collier County Commissioners balked at approving the final adoption because the plan supported closing an Immokalee trailer park often cited as illegal by the county zoning department. The plan needs four of the five county lawmakers to vote for its adoption.
Collier County is currently embroiled in a lawsuit brought by the trailer park’s owners but commissioners have voted to foreclose on the property once the current suit is settled.
When the final adoption vote stalled in May, adoption of the Immokalee Master Plan seemed seriously in doubt because of new growth management rules that took effect in Florida in June. In short, the Master Plan appeared dead.
The Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott drastically overhauled the state’s growth management rules in April. A new provision suggested counties have only 180 days after state approval to grant local approval to a new measure like the Immokalee Master Plan. The 180-day rule appeared to end the effort to adopt the Immokalee Master Plan because Collier lawmakers could not agree to its adoption.
But a June 15th letter from the DCA to Collier County grants the county until the December date to vote on final adoption of the Immokalee Plan. The DCA, explained the letter from plan process administrator D. Ray Eubanks, ruled the county has 180 days the new growth rules take effect to adopt the Immokalee Plan. That restores the timetable and sets the December 28th deadline.
It is still not clear when the plan might return to the Collier County Commission for its final vote. The two commissioners opposing the plan’s final adoption have not indicated they have changed their minds even though the trailer park provision has been removed from the plan and the lawsuit filed by the trailer park owners has not yet been resolved.
You can read a recent history of the plan journey here.
But true to the character of Immokalee and Immokaleans, hope remains a driving force toward seeing plan reach final adoption, propelling Immokalee into its bright future.