Church making case for expansion in Golden Gate Estates amid opposition

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Jack Lowenstein
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A battle is brewing in Golden Gate Estates over a church.

While some neighbors hope for divine intervention, others argue this has nothing to do with the type of project but what might arrive down the road.

Dozens of parishioners of Iglesia Pentacostes Peniel gathered to address Collier County Planning Commission while wearing matching shirts, urging leaders to vote yes on their new church, as they run out of space.

“I started to see three to 19-year-old all cluttered into one small classroom,” Elisabet Marquina explained. “There’s no. How do I even teach? How do I get the message. How do I get God’s word through their life and stuff like that? How do I speak love and life into them?”

“We’re there to help the community,” Gustavo Marin said. “We’re there to teach to bring people to Jesus Christ. We’re there to be a positive to teach people the Ten Commandments, not to be a negative, not to be an eyesore, not to cause problems.”

Church leaders hope to build their one-story building in Golden Gate Estates at the corner of 22nd Avenue and 8th Avenue. The proposed 5,000 square foot, 100-seat church would have services Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings and special events throughout the year.

Some living near the church say those services and events would cause excess noise, traffic and safety issues on their street. They want to keep their neighborhood quiet.

“This church is an invasion into Golden Gate Estates,” Rae Ann Burton said. “It does not conform to the buildings in the estates and would disrupt our quality of life of living in a rural area quite lack of traffic pollution and noise.”

“I can only see it getting out of control,” Angus Gilmore said. “I have nothing against the church or religion or anything.”

But church leaders say many of their parishioners live in the estates and won’t disrupt the community.

The planning commission talked at length about this item. One planning commissioner said it’s the hardest decision he’s ever made with the planning leaders. The commission decided to delay making a recommendation until four weeks from now.

Whether the planning commission votes to recommend it or not, it would still have to go to Collier County Board of County Commissioners for a decision.

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