Collier officials to take over utility company


GOLDEN GATE ESTATES, Fla. — County officials approved a deal Tuesday to take control of Orange Tree Utilities, the company supplying water to a few thousand homes in the eastern part of the county.

Orange Tree had played a role in delays of the opening of a Publix on Randall Boulevard and Immokalee Road, which has been stalled in large measure because the utility company wouldn’t connect the water until the store was compliant with its procedures.

Residents also complained the company raised their rates, has terrible customer service and is hurting area growth.

“When you call to ask for help you get yelled at — they’re just rude,” said resident Kristi Pickard.

Anthony Solomon, owner of the Ronto Group development company, believes the utility company was too small and didn’t work as quickly as necessary, making it difficult for developers to do their jobs.

“That’s really where workforce housing is going. We’re building lower-priced homes for working people and families, and without the county’s takeover, that puts all of that in jeopardy,” Solomon said.

The Publix is expected to open in the next few weeks upon passing a fire inspection.

The county will officially take over Orange Tree Utilities on March 1.

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