By Jim Melican, GSAC Board Member
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On January 18, the Naples City Council held the first of what will be two hearings on the NCH proposal to construct a building on its downtown campus to house its Heart, Vascular & Stroke Institute, as well as an adjacent parking structure needed to ensure that the number of parking spaces on its property is not substantially diminished. The subject of this first hearing was whether to approve an ordinance rezoning 13.72 acres of its 22.45 acre property downtown into the Public Service District (PSD). By a vote of 4-1, the Council approved that ordinance. Mayor Heitmann and Council Members Blankenship, Perry and Petrunoff voted in favor; Vice Mayor Hutchison was the sole dissenter.

While this was an essential first step, the second hearing, scheduled for February 7, will really determine the fate of the NCH proposal. On that date the Council will decide whether to approve the NCH proposal as a “conditional use” within the PSD consistent with the requirements set forth in an ordinance it adopted in October 2022. It also has final review and approval authority over the site plan proposed by NCH. It seems evident that the principal remaining issue is the height of the parking structure that NCH is seeking to construct. Within the Public Service District, the Naples Code limits the maximum height of structures to 30 feet. However, structures in excess of that may be approved by the Council “provided that they do not affect public health, safety or welfare.” NCH has stated that, for the parking garage, it can if necessary live within the 30 feet limitation but would much prefer the 40-foot height it has proposed. Two of the Council Members stated at the January 18 meeting that they would support the 40-foot height.

GSAC President Dave Feight, speaking for our unanimous board of directors, addressed a letter to the Mayor and Council Members on January 15 in support of the NCH proposal. A link to that letter is attached.