Riviera Golf Estates residents oppose plan to convert golf course to housing

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An active 55+ community in Collier County wants to replace the private 18-hole golf course with new homes and lakes, and some people living there are not happy.

Riveria Golf Estates is a community for people age 55 and older, and some say they’re worried that a new community will bring younger families and teenagers to the area and they may have to deal with potential break-ins, vandalism, and could now get flooded out during a major storm.

On Monday, residents of Riviera Golf Estates heard the plans to bring more than 350 homes into the middle of their community.

This meeting was supposed to happen earlier this month but because of the large turnout, it was rescheduled.

Residents like Barbara Schweikert who has lived in Riviera Golf Estates for the last 27 years said they have major concerns with these plans, one of the main ones being what will happen to her and her home if there is a major storm.

“It disturbs me that they’re going to put all these units right in the middle of our community and it has served as a stormwater floodplain, which has protected us from flooding,” Schweikert explained. “But if they put these units in according to the code, they’re going to have to raise the level to accommodate the new code construction, which will flood me out. Where do I go?”

Riviera Golf Estates was developed by Winfield Companies between 1967 and 2003. The 55-plus community consists of nearly 700 single-family homes and condominiums.

Community members said their original deed states the golf course would never be built on, so they wrote to Collier County commissioners and state leaders.

“I face the golf course and it is a beautiful setting,” said Riviera Golf Estates residents Margie Fields.

That’s what’s at stake here, and stakeholders aren’t having it. “I used my life savings to purchase this home to have a piece of heaven,” said Fields.

Fields is concerned her piece of heaven could become quite the opposite thank to a proposal to wipe out the existing golf course and build some 350 new housing units.

A civil engineer who lives in Riviera says it’s not a good idea. “This will create a potential flooding catastrophe to the existing (Riviera Golf Estates) homes and the surrounding communities.”

Residents the original deed restriction was put in place to protect the golf course.

“It’s expired, I will have to go back and look at my file for the exact date it expired but it has expired,” said an attorney for the civil engineering firm Hole Montes. The Hole Montes engineering and planning firm, representing La Minnesota Riviera LLC, the owner of the 94-acre golf course property off Rattlesnake Hammock Road, hosted Monday night’s meeting. The rezoning proposal seeks the development of 384 single-family attached dwelling units, Collier County records show.

The tone of this meeting was contentious at times, but the attorney for Hole Montes said they were open to answering every question.

“We got a lot of, we don’t know, we’re studying, we’re looking into it. I feel like we were condescended to also,” said Riviera Golf Estates resident Peggy Olson.

Neighbors said they feel like they are not being heard.

There is a second public meeting on the proposal on Wednesday.

The Riviera Golf Estates community is not backing down and said they are ready for a fight.

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