Immokalee Master Plan may go to voters before county commissioners
The future of the proposed Immokalee Area Master Plan may rest in the advisory hands of Immokalee voters, not solely in the hands of the Collier County Commission.
Collier County Commissioner Jim Coletta, who represents Immokalee and eastern Collier on the county’s lawmaking panel, will propose June 12 a significant shift in the master plan’s future. Rather than having the county commission give the plan a final up-or-down vote on June 18 – as was agreed last month – Coletta will suggest giving Immokalee voters a direct say by placing it on the August 14 primary election ballot in a non-binding straw vote.
“We’ve gone to great lengths to make sure the people of Immokalee understand the Master Plan,” Coletta said. “Let’s take it another step forward and let Immokaleans vote on whether they support the plan or not.”
Coletta will need two other lawmakers to agree with him before the question can be attached to the August primary ballot. The proposal has the approval of the county attorney and Jennifer Edwards, Supervisor of Elections. While the August election is a primary election for political parties to select nominees for local and state office, the straw ballot question will be open to all registered voters in Immokalee, regardless of party affiliation.
According to Coletta’s proposal, the ballot question would read:
DO YOU SUPPORT THE AMENDMENTS TO THE IMMOKALEE AREA MASTER PLAN AND
THE IMMOKALEE AREA MASTER PLAN FUTURE LAND USE MAP AS VOTED ON AT THE
COLLIER COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS’ DECEMBER 13, 2011, MEETING?
“The county commission will then have a clear and indisputable direction to take,” Coletta said. “If voters approve the plan, we should too. If voters reject the plan our way is also clear.”
He said the results of the August 14 vote will still leave county lawmakers plenty of time to formally adopt the plan prior to the end-of-September deadline for approval set by the State of Florida.
The date of December 13, 2011 is significant in the proposed ballot question because that is the date on which the Collier commission failed to approve the plan when it garnered only three of the four necessary votes for adoption. While Commissioners Coletta, Donna Fiala and Fred Coyle supported the plan, Commissioner Georgia Hiller voted against it and Commissioner Tom Henning abstained. Because it is a major change to the county’s formal growth plan, adoption requires the so-called super-majority of four votes.
Following the December rejection, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity extended to September the deadline for final, local adoption of the plan.
The Collier County Commission is set to debate Coletta’s proposal at 11 a.m. on June 12 during its regular meeting.