Eight Naples Homeowners Associations unite to protect city's small-town feel

Article Courtesy of The Naples Daily News

By Lisa Conley

Published December 12, 2018

Eight Naples homeowners associations have banded together to preserve the small-town feel of Naples, which they fear is quickly disappearing due to the city's penchant for granting deviations and variances from its own codes.

"Deviations and variances should be the rare exception, not the rule," the HOA conglomerate wrote in a letter to the city's planning advisory board. "Excessive variances establish a dangerous and undesirable precedent."


The city is re-evaluating its vision plan, a process it undertakes about every 10 years, to decide if it needs to make any changes, but the presidents of the eight HOAs are concerned the process is flawed and, as a result, its outcome will be flawed, too.

"In our view, the process as now conceived places in serious jeopardy many fundamental values by the residents and voters of our seven HOAs," Linda Black, president of The Moorings Property Owners Association, wrote in a Dec. 5 email to the planning advisory board. Since then, another HOA has joined the group.

The group's primary complaint involves the lack of outreach to the HOAs, which together represent the majority of taxpayers in Naples. In August the city hired Stantec consulting group to poll Naples residents, taxpayers and city-based businesses on the 2007 Vision Plan to determine if it needs an update, but Stantec did not seek input from the majority of HOAs, according to the group.

However, Tim Hancock, senior planner with Stantec and the man overseeing the community outreach process, said he hasn’t started soliciting opinions about the vision plan. Instead, he’s been informing businesses, organizations and residents about the process, which will start in earnest in January.


"There may be a misunderstanding that the meetings we’ve been having are for the purposes of gathering information, but they're just for providing information about the process," he said. "We’ll be hosting a series of workshops, and there'll also be an online survey, which will be the primary platforms for people to voice their opinions.”

This isn’t the first time Stantec has faced criticism for its work; the company got heat from Collier County residents earlier this year regarding its involvement with the county's stormwater fee proposal, which commissioners ultimately decided to put off for at least a year due to the public outcry.

“I don’t think Stantec did you all any good, quite frankly,” Tony Pires, a lawyer representing several community development districts, told county commissioners at their Sept. 6 meeting.

Commissioner Burt Saunders agreed.

"I think Stantec did not do us any favors on this,” he said. “I hate to say that, because I have friends there."

Hancock said the two situations can’t be compared.

“I don’t think there are many, if any, similarities between the creation of stormwater fees and a visioning process,” he said. “Every public engagement effort is tailored to meet the needs of the community, and the whole purpose is to bring the public into the process because the more we get the public involved, the better off the resulting policy will be.”

Stantec will present a findings report to the planning advisory board in April.

David Feight, chairman of the planning advisory board, could not be reached for comment Monday.

The HOA group — Aqualane Shores Association, Coquina Sands Homeowners Association, Gulf Shore Property Owners Association, Lake Park Neighborhood Association, The Moorings Property Owners Association, Old Naples Association, Port Royal and Royal Harbor Association — will attend Wednesday's planning advisory board meeting.

The meeting starts at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall, 735 Eighth St. S., across from Cambier Park in downtown Naples.