Maintaining a reasonable balance between future growth in South Florida and the rights of private property owners has become a concern for some residents. As reported by the Naples Daily News, Collier County is expected to see a population increase of up to 162,000 new residents over the next 20 years. Local officials, however, are attempting to play down residents’ fears of the area becoming another Miami-style urban zone.

 As noted by the Marco News, environmental restrictions are in place in Collier County, and new growth can cause increased population densities in those areas that are available for development. Due to permanent conservation requirements, development is possible on less than 10% of the county’s land. With a significant increase in residential development, it may be necessary to expand the county’s existing infrastructure into natural areas that are now home to rows of slash pines and other shade trees.

Some of the larger developers eyeing the available land are considering major projects which may contain as many as 10,000 housing units. The county’s population may double, or perhaps even triple in years to come. Local officials, however, are reassuring concerned residents that zoning laws will prevent the area “from looking like Miami.” Nature preserve requirements and other legal buffers may play a role in maintaining the county’s current non-metro environment.

Despite the assurances, some private property owners may remain less than enthusiastic about new housing developments spreading out across the county. Combined with the associated commercial areas and planned retail centers, the development projects can increase local traffic and require a significant expansion of existing highways and interchanges. Current private property owners might consider contesting some of the new developers’ plans through the county’s land use and zoning laws.