Collier County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the 44-acre Orange Blossom Ranch Planned Unit Development project directly east of Palmetto Ridge High School, on the north side of Oil Well Road.
Denver-based developer Quarterra sought to change zoning from solely commercial to mixed-use to accommodate up to 400 housing units on 17 acres next to an under construction, grocery store-anchored shopping center.
With local residents concerned about the traffic impacts of an extra 400 units off Oil Well, project planner Wayne Arnold said adding housing instead of commercial buildings won’t change the projected traffic increase for the area.
“We have proposed a project that we’re calling trip neutral,” Arnold said. “So the conversion of some of the commercial to residential doesn’t change the overall trip [capacity] that has been established for that [planned unit development].”
At a December planning commission meeting, the developer proposed to make 10% of the planned units income restricted to 120% of the county’s average median income. By request of the planning commission, a proposal to lower the cap to 100% of the county’s $98,000 average median income for a family of four was made to county commissioners.
As part of the shopping center development, there will be a frontage road connecting Hawthorn Road to the other side of the residential development and a signalized intersection.
In response to locals against the project, Commissioner Rick LoCastro said county staff does its best to decide the best suited projects for already owned empty parcels of land.
“One thing just to remember is when people own land they have the right to build on it,” he said. “We try aggressively to figure out what the best thing is that’s going to fit, and you can never please everybody. But sometimes when folks send us notes and they say ‘Well, nothing should go there. It’s already overcrowded,’ nothing’s not an option in most cases.”