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Navigating zoning disputes not always an easy task for developers

We have previous written on this blog about the zoning and land-use challenges real estate and business developers can face in moving forward with a project. In some cases, these legal challenges are rooted in environmental issues, with neighbors opposing development in favor of environmental preservation.

A good example of this kind of situation is a dispute over the development of coastal property in North Naples. A Detroit-based developer who was approved under a 2008 settlement to build five high-rise towers along the Cocahatchee River and establish a golf course later changed plans and decided that it wanted to construct 62 single-family homes in place of the golf course, which would apparently not have been profitable. In order to approve the change in plans, zoning rules would have to have been changed. 

The change in plans was not welcomed by environmental advocates and local residents, who were opposed to altering the 2008 settlement agreement. Interestingly, environmental issues were at least partially what motivated the change in plans. The developer had argued that, in addition to financial considerations, there were concerns about the long-term impact of a golf course on the coastal property. Ultimately, the zoning change was denied for lack of community support.

Navigating environmental concerns can be an important aspect of moving forward with a development project, and having an experienced advocate who understands land-use and zoning issues and who works to get involved in public debates early in the process can make a big difference in the outcome of development disputes.

Source:, “Collier denies zoning change for N. Naples development,” Steve Doane, Mar. 2015. 

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