Taking Care of Family, Clients & Community for Three Decades
Let's Connect

Conservancy of Southwest Florida files suit challenging Collier County’s approval of Rivergrass Village in eastern Collier County

Proposed development is unlawful, burdens taxpayers and negatively impacts panther habitat and quality of life

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has filed a lawsuit against Collier County in response to the Collier County Board of County Commissioners’ approval of the development of Rivergrass Village within the County’s Rural Lands Stewardship Area (RLSA) in eastern Collier County.

Filed today in Florida’s 20th Judicial Circuit Court, the complaint contends that Rivergrass Village Stewardship Receiving Area (SRA) is inconsistent with the RLSA policies in the Collier County Growth Management Plan and Land Development Code. In 2002, Collier County adopted the RLSA program to guide development of 182,000 acres of privately held lands in eastern Collier County. The goals were to protect agricultural lands, direct development away from wetlands and wildlife habitat, and to avoid urban sprawl.

“Rivergrass Village contradicts the County’s own growth policies and sets the stage for approval of a multitude of other large new developments that if approved, will result in urban sprawl the geographic size of Fort Lauderdale – times two,” said Rob Moher Conservancy president and CEO.  Additionally, the taxpayers will bear the burden of roadway, infrastructure, and other costs. As one of the Collier County Planning Commissioners stated when voting against Rivergrass, “…this is the last clear chance for our County to get it right.”

The complaint addresses several areas of inconsistency with Collier County’s Growth Management Plan, including:

  • Rivergrass Village is neither interconnected nor walkable;
  • Rivergrass Village is not fiscally neutral and will result in a drain on taxpayer dollars;
  • Rivergrass Village will destroy endangered species habitat;
  • Rivergrass Village fails to incorporate innovative planning strategies.

Rivergrass Village was approved on Jan. 28, 2020 by the Collier County Board of County Commissioners in a 3-2 vote, despite a recommendation of denial by the Planning Commission and a statement by Collier County Staff that the project does not meet the intent of the RLSA policies pertaining to new development.

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has hired Arnold & Porter, an international law firm based in Washington, D.C. with nearly 1,000 lawyers and more than 100 years of experience including in environmental law, to achieve its desired goal of overturning approval of the Rivergrass Village development order.

“The Conservancy believes that growth and preservation of natural resources can work together and urges that all new development follow RLSA policies and be located away from primary panther habitat,” said Moher.

About the Conservancy of Southwest Florida:
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is a not-for-profit environmental protection organization with a 55-year history focused on the issues impacting the water, land, wildlife and future of Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Conservancy accomplishes this mission through the combined efforts of its experts in the areas of environmental science, policy, education and wildlife rehabilitation. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, world-class Nature Center and von Arx Wildlife Hospital are headquartered in Naples, Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, south of the Naples Zoo off Goodlette-Frank Road. Learn more about the Conservancy’s work and how to support the quality of life in Southwest Florida www.conservancy.org.

Share now!

More To Explore