Whatever happened to ‘Disney-like’ pool that upset neighbors in Marbella Lakes

Article Courtesy of The Naples News


Published January 4, 2010

— Looking over his controversial “Disney-like” pool at his two-story home at Marbella Lakes in Naples, Fabien Tref still doesn’t understand what the fuss is all about.

“It’s fun, isn’t it?” he asked, as he showed off his new lagoon-style pool.

Punching buttons on a hand-held controller, he turned on waterfalls and activated a rainbow of pool lights. The spa bubbled under a rock-like cave.

The concrete sculpted pool — with seven waterfalls, a slide and a Tiki hut — upset some of his neighbors, who called it “Disney-like” and complained loudly to Collier County government that it was out of place and violated homeowners association rules.

There is no wrongdoing, according to the community’s developer, G.L. Homes. Collier County code enforcement officers haven’t found any violations either.

G.L. Homes is in control of the homeowners association at Marbella Lakes – a community off Livingston Road – because half of the development is still to be built. The developer has approved everything that Tref has done to his home.

While a few of Tref’s closest neighbors still are 

Fabien Tref has finished the main pool at his home in Marbella Lakes in Naples. Tref, who is looking to add an additional grotto next to the pool has faced opposition from neighbors even though his pool was approved by the developers.

unhappy, most of the community’s residents actually like the pool, said Patty Campbell, a division president for G.L. Homes.

“The pool is done and it’s absolutely beautiful – beyond beautiful,” she said. “The landscaping that he’s installed around the pool makes it very, very private. From the cul-de-sac you can barely see that it exists.”

Tref has planted 6-foot to 8-foot ficus trees along the sides of his yard to shield the view of his pool from his neighbors.

“You can’t find any bigger ficus in Florida,” he said. “It’s expensive.”

Where he doesn’t have the ficus trees, he has put in vines, which he expects to soon cover the concrete rock that still can be seen at the back of his property. Some neighbors still are grumbling because they see the rocks from their lanais.

“Since when is a rock ugly?” Tref asked

On one side of his yard, he recently added another cave and a pond, separate from his pool. The county doesn’t require a permit for the rock-like cave – or grotto – because it’s considered an aesthetic feature. But Tref is in the process of getting a permit anyway.

“I’m 100 percent within the law on everything and I want to keep it that way,” he said.

Rich Rossi, who lives a few doors down from Tref, is still upset with G.L. Homes for approving the controversial pool, without holding any hearings to allow neighbors to have a say.

“Our concerns fell on deaf ears,” Rossi said. “The ‘Disney Pool’ – as some call it – continues to expand in size and scope. The homeowners association continues to approve new additions without care, concern or input from Marbella residents. The HOA approvals have been and continue to remain questionable.”

Tref said he put in more landscaping than was required to block views of his caves.

“Some people are never happy,” he said.

He said one of his next-door neighbors, who is from New York, loves everything he’s done. And the grotto is right next to that neighbor’s house, blocked by trees.

With the grotto almost done, Tref is looking to start his next project. It has already stirred controversy among the same neighbors who don’t like his pool.

Tref — an international consultant who helps his clients build their watch collections — now is planning an addition to his home.

Some have called Tref’s project a “guest house,” but he said it’s more of an expansion. There won’t be a separate house and the addition will blend in with the existing home, he said.

Tref still is finalizing plans for the project.

“Nothing has been approved yet,” he said. “I don’t know why these guys are already complaining. I didn’t start anything.”

He said G.L. Homes, acting as the homeowners association, already has requested modifications to his architectural plans for the home addition. Campbell, with G.L. Homes, said there’s nothing preventing Tref from adding to his home — or even building a guest house — because of the community’s flexible zoning as a planned unit development, or PUD.

“He won’t be able to get a permit if it’s not acceptable to the county,” Campbell said.

While some of Tref’s neighbors have complained that he seems to get everything he wants approved by the homeowners association, he said it’s just not true.

At a recent homeowners association meeting, neighbors learned the addition to his house would span more than 1,000 square feet, Rossi said.

“If someone wants to put an addition on their house, I generally don’t have an issue with that,” he said. “My issue is where do you draw the line of what is aesthetically pleasing?”

One of Tref’s direct neighbors has complained the addition will “isolate her pool from any sun,” Rossi said, adding that it was unfair because “it will put it in the shade all day long.”

Tref, who is in his 30s, is eager to get all of his construction behind him and to move on. Though he’s not married now, he’s planning for his future.

“It’s a family house I’m building,” he said. “All I want is my peace. That’s all.”