Collier County Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend rezoning Naples Brookside Marina from single-family residential to commercial. The 7-acre submerged property is near Rock Creek and is just east of the intersection of Fifth Avenue South and Davis Boulevard.
The privately owned man-made lands were created in the 1960s and became a marina in the 1970s with wet slips in the western basin of the property. In 2003, the Department of Environmental Protection and Army Corps of Engineers approved an additional 39 slips to be added to the southern shoreline for a total of 137 in the submerged lands. A decade later, the slips in the western basin were deemed run-down and removed.
Naples Marina Holdings purchased the property in 2018, and the owner entered into a lease agreement with Freedom Boat Club to use the boat slips. Now, owner John Giglio seeks to reinstall 73 wet slips in the western basin for a total of 112 on the property. He already received permits from the Department of Environmental Protection and Army Corps to do so.
Giglio sought a limited C-4 zoning, which permits certain commercial uses associated with a marina. This would allow services such as a water taxi, commercial boat rentals and fishing guides. Personal watercraft and liveaboard boats would not be permitted.
The county designated all of Rock Creek as idle speed, no wake. However, that was preempted by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission ruling, which designates the area as slow speed, minimum wake — a slightly faster speed. FWC has no official speed zone signs at the entrance to or within Rock Creek, and Naples Marina Holdings asked the commission to change the speed or post signage.
“[FWC] took a vessel unmarked through Rock Creek and witnessed no problems and no excessive speeds,” said Clay Brooker, who represented Naples Marina Holdings. “Moreover, they emphasized that there were no watercraft-caused manatee deaths in Rock Creek, no boating accidents in Rock Creek and no complaints to Fish and Wildlife about vessel speed at Rock Creek. Therefore, Fish and Wildlife told us they are disinclined on their own to change the speed zone or post additional signage.”
Through two neighborhood information meetings, Naples Marina Holdings made several offers to concerned citizens who live north of the marina across the water. The offers included Freedom Boat Club sending a manned vessel to the entrance of Rock Creek to monitor activity during high-use hours and offering cameras to 10 property owners along the waterfront to monitor activity with the ability to send any traffic violations to FWC. The company also guaranteed no current slips will be extended farther north toward residential properties, and there will be a limit of one boat per slip. Despite these promises, nearby residents still had concerns.
Peter Lang, who lives off Harbor Lane, across from the marina, said boat traffic is already too high and negatively affects wildlife. When he moved to the area more than six years ago, he said fishing was plentiful, but now, there are almost no fish left.
“When we moved there, we were fishing every day. We had tarpon, snook, redfish, every imaginable thing, and especially an overabundance of bait fish. It is all gone since Freedom Boat Club,” Lang said.
Although there were more boat slips in the early 2000s than what is now being proposed, local resident Brooke Sykes said the commercial use creates concern for her as a parent with children who enjoy living off the water.
Not all nearby residents were against the additional wet slips. Phid Pollis, who has been living in the neighborhood since 1977, hasn’t had any issues with the operation of the marina. “[The marina] has always been there, it has always been a good neighbor and it’s a boating community,” Pollis said. “We would love to have this community have this marina there as an asset.”
Planning and Zoning Director Mike Bosi said county staff recommends approval of the rezone, as it aligns with Collier’s Growth Management Plan.
“What staff has looked at as the most pressing is the historic use of this property. It’s always been a marina for the last 50 years through aligning the zoning with the use of the property,” Bosi said. “I think that is the appropriate action that they have satisfied the zoning requirements.”
Upon discussion, the planning commission agreed Naples Marina Holdings worked well with the community in making it nine offers, including cameras for nearby property owners and having a manned vessel at the entrance of Rock Creek. The recommendation for approval will be presented to the Board of County Commissioners at a later date.