Naples Brookside Marina was rezoned from single-family residential to commercial upon a unanimous vote Tuesday from the Collier County Board of Commissioners. The 7-acre submerged property is near Rock Creek and is just east of the intersection of Fifth Avenue South and Davis Boulevard.
The submerged lands are privately owned by John Giglio with Naples Marina Holdings. The man-made lands were dredged in the 1960s and have been a marina since the 1970s.
In 2003, the Department of Environmental Protection and Army Corps of Engineers approved almost 40 additional slips to be added to the southern shoreline for a total of 137 in the submerged lands, and the property was dredged again to remove any contaminated sediment that would threaten water quality.
More than a decade later in 2014, the slips in the western basin were deemed rundown and removed. In 2017, the land was dredged again.
When Naples Marina Holdings purchased the property in 2018, it entered into a lease agreement with Freedom Boat Club. Now, Giglio seeks to reinstall 73 boat slips in the western basin on the marina, for a total of 112 on the property.
Under the new commercial zoning, permitted uses include water transportation through shuttles and fishing charters. Liveaboards and personal watercraft, such as Jet Skis and WaveRunners, will not be permitted.
According to the county’s Manatee Protection Plan, the subject is a preferred site, which would permit 311 slips on the property. On a preferred site determined by various criteria, 18 slips are permitted for every 150 feet of shoreline. Giglio is requesting less than 40% of what is allowed by the Manatee Protection Plan.
Attorney Clay Brooker, who represented Naples Marina Holdings, said the biggest concern among surrounding residents has been excessive speed of vessels in Rock Creek to and from the marina.
In the 1970s, the county designated Rock Creek as idle speed, no wake. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission since has preempted regulation of navigable waters and has designated Rock Creek as slow speed, minimum wake, a slightly faster speed.
Brooker toured Rock Creek on his boat and noticed there are no official speed zones anywhere near the entrance to Rock Creek.
After contacting FWC, Brooker was told no manatee deaths were caused by watercraft in Rock Creek and no complaints were made about speed.
“Fish and Wildlife informed us that they are disinclined on their own to change the speed zone or post any additional signage,” Brooker said.
He asked the county to approach FWC to request idle speed, no wake zones at the blind turns of Rock Creek. Laws don’t allow private owners, such as Giglio, to make requests, but the county is permitted to do so.
“I discovered one statutory section that recognizes the possibility of [idle speed, no wake] designations 300 feet on each side of blind turns in a narrow creek,” Brooker said.
Freedom Boat Club installed two cameras within the marina basin to monitor speeding activity, and 10 additional cameras will be offered to property owners along Harbor Lane on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“[The cameras] actually can catch a video when it detects motion, and that video can then be sent along and essentially memorializes the event, allowing Freedom Boat Club to implement their disciplinary measures,” Brooker said. “They can suspend and even revoke a membership if they see that members are not performing as they should on the waters.”
When the Collier County Planning Commission unanimously approved the project in May, it recommended the number of vessels permitted at the marina be limited to the number of slips. Brooker asked the commissioners not to proceed with recommendation, as some slips are more than 60 feet long for boats that are no more than 25 feet in length.
Commissioner William McDaniel proposed the number of boats be limited to 120 within the 112 slips.
“That would allow for the owner of the property to sell property. The next person coming in knows what they’re getting, the neighborhood knows what they’re getting, and we’re not opening Pandora’s box, if you will, for another business owner to double the amount of boats that are currently in there,” McDaniel said.
Commissioner Dan Kowal agreed to push for stricter speed regulations with FWC.