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Cut the Grass, Golden Gate Estates Estates Residents

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avatarUdut, Kenneth -- on Jan. 7 2009, from Golden Gate Estates, Naples, FL
Founder of this Naples site of NeighborHelp Referrals.

Unfortunately, this is being fast-tracked with no input from the community - and what about those wetlands?

Some Golden Gate Estates residents say Collier County should clip plans to expand county weed ordinances to the Estates.

Due to its expansive lot sizes and rural nature, the Estates area is presently exempt from county ordinances that require weeds and grass in excess of 18 inches in height to be mowed to a height of six inches or less.

“I, and other Golden Gate residents, moved here because we wanted to find a more traditional, rural place to live, that would allow us to do a variety of things at our homes, from sitting on the porch to growing some citrus trees to having some 4-H projects in the yard, building a swamp buggy and/or parking your dump truck after a long day’s work,” says Estates resident Mike Ramsey, president of an environmental consulting firm.

But, according to Code Enforcement director Diane Flagg, county commissioners directed staff to expand the weed ordinance to include the Estates, due to public health and safety concerns connected to the growing number of foreclosures in the area. She that said during a recent meeting of the newly formed Golden Gate Estates Task Force, sheriff and fire representatives spoke about crime and fire issues related to weeds, sometimes as tall as the structures themselves. One agent noted that he was physically unable to access the front door of a home due to overgrown weeds.

Flagg said Estates mowing will be limited to 30 feet from a structure or to the property line, if less than 30 feet; all other areas of the county are required to keep their grass/weeds mowed to 18 inches or less on the total property. She said the proposed revision will address weeds and grass only, and will not require any removal of landscaping or prohibit landscaping with trees, shrubs, etc. The amendment is currently in the draft stage and slated for approval at the Jan. 27 commission meeting.

Ramsey says the county did not seek input from those most affected by the amended ordinance.

“It is of great concern to me and others in the Estates that the Board of County Commissioners instructed code enforcement staff to ‘fast track’ a modification to the litter, weed and exotics control ordinance... without seeking input from the residents,” he said. “We feel like we have been deprived of the right to participate in issues important to our community.”

Reaction from representatives of Estates civic and homeowner groups included similar concerns about a lack of public input,as well as possible conflicts with other county and state agencies.

“This is a very complicated issue, with conflicts between the recommendation of the fire district, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Collier Environmental Services Permitting and numerous Collier County land clearing and exotic removal ordinances,” says Tim Nance, past president of the Golden Gate Estates Area Civic Association. “... no public meetings of any kind have been held or scheduled to review this topic to my knowledge. For some reason, agencies of the local government in Collier persist in conducting business in this manner.”

Doug Rankin, president of the Homeowners Association of the Golden Gate Estates, says while most people support the ordinance, there are some common sense problems that must be addressed, such as what to do in wetland areas where mowing is not allowed.

“Most people have already cut such an area around their homes, if for no other reason than fire control,” he said.
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Cut the Grass, Golden Gate Estates Estates Residents Unfortunately, this is being fast-tracked with no input from the community - and what about those wetlands?