Laura Layden , email@example.com; 239-263-48187:11 p.m. EDT September 15, 2016
The Collier County Planning Commission on Thursday delayed its public hearing on Arthrex’s expansion plans in North Naples, moving it to Oct. 4.
The move came after an attorney representing three groups that oppose the project asked for due process and more time to build his case against it.
The planning panel voted unanimously to put off the hearing.
Naples land use attorney Rich Yovanovich, who represents Arthrex, didn’t oppose the delay, saying he was OK with it as long as the hearing could be finished by Oct. 5 before he heads out of town.
Arthrex, a growing medical device manufacturer, wants to expand its headquarters at Creekside Commerce Park off Immokalee Road east of U.S. 41. The company is asking for several amendments to a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, for the commerce park. Plans includes building a 12-story, 205-foot office tower, which has sparked some opposition.
Arthrex’s new tower would be built at 1250 Creekside Parkway, just east of the U.S. Post Office and behind a 7-Eleven. Arthrex already owns and occupies a smaller, older building there, which would be razed.
With the project, Arthrex expects to create 560 jobs at its corporate campus.
Naples attorney Bob Pritt, with Roetzel & Andress, asked the planning commission for the continuance. He represents the Bay Colony Golf Club, the Estates at Bay Colony Neighborhood Association and the Collier’s Reserve Homeowners Association.
Pritt said the speed at which the application was moving was unprecedented and that neighbors need more time to digest the information. The documentation submitted for the project runs more than 600 pages, he said.
He said opponents need more time to “lawyer up” or “expert up” to make their case.
Before agreeing to the delay, Yovanovich said he hoped planning commissioners were all healthy and “no one has pneumonia.” He quipped that he'd like to see all their medical records first.
Naples attorney Steven Adamczyk, representing the Foundation of Pelican Marsh, said the meeting was not in the county’s growth management building as required. He requested the pre-application meeting be held again and asked for a second neighborhood meeting on the project.
In addition to building the tower, Arthrex wants to close off a section of Creekside Boulevard to traffic, requiring a rerouting and effectively creating a big U-turn around its new building. By removing a piece of the road between Creekside Street and Arthrex Boulevard, the company could add more walking paths between its buildings, creating a more campus-like feel.
County staff is recommending approval of the application, but with conditions. One of staff’s concerns is how traffic will be rerouted on Creekside Boulevard.
In July, Arthrex announced it was expanding again, with a capital investment of more than $63 million. In May, county commissioners approved more than $1 million in incentives.
Arthrex could receive more than $5.9 million in incentives from the state and the county for its expansion. Company representatives told the county that financial incentives were required for Arthrex to continue considering Collier County for its project.
Based on the contract Arthrex signed with the state for incentives, it’s on a tight timeline to get the project built, so the approval process has been expedited.
The project is expected to go to county commissioners for a vote Oct. 25. Approval would require a supermajority vote — or four out of five commissioners.