The Hearing Examiner’s Office was established in 2013 to augment the land use related hearing functions of the Collier County Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals and serves as a quasi-judicial office to hear, evaluate and decide specific land use and development proposals. The Hearing Examiner provides no legislative function but applies laws and ordinances passed by the County Commission.
The purpose of the Hearing Examiner is to hold hearings, review evidence and testimony, and hear argument regarding the laws, ordinances, policies and administrative regulations that apply to the application or other matter being reviewed. The Examiner then determines the pertinent facts, applies the proper law, and issues a report with a decision and/or recommendation.
The Hearing Examiner will conduct the public hearings and render decisions on matters assigned to the office. The Hearing Examiner is under contract with the Board of County Commissioners. He is the administrative head of the Office and reports directly to the County Commission.
The Hearing Examiner’s Office is “independent” of oversight by the County Manager to ensure the decisions and recommendations rendered by this Office are based on the ordinances and the records compiled in the public hearings, not on political considerations.
Land use permits are filed with the Planning and Development Services Department. Review by that department follows a standard pattern within a time frame dependent on the complexity of the project. After that review, Planning and Development Services staff prepares a recommendation (referred to as a staff report) to the Hearing Examiner or to another appropriate Board as required. The Hearing Examiner is not bound by that staff report but gives it weight appropriate to an expert recommendation.
The staff report, application, comments from other county and state agencies, site plans, maps, public comments and other relevant documents are submitted to the Hearing Examiner for matters assigned to that office. Once received in the Hearing Examiner's office, an application is reviewed and a public hearing date is placed on the calendar.
Meetings are scheduled for the second and fourth Thursday of each month and held in Conference Room 610 in the Growth Management Division building at 2800 North Horseshoe Drive.
There are various forms of public notification for all hearings and interested parties are encouraged to review the file at the Planning and Development Services Department to learn what documents are in the record. Anyone may request copies at a per-copy cost established for copies of public records. Interested parties are also encouraged to submit written comments or concerns for inclusion in the pre-hearing record. Please be aware that all information contained in written comments becomes public record. This includes any listed phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
Anyone planning to attend a hearing should check with the office (239.252.4446) the day before a hearing is scheduled to confirm that the matter will be heard at the time noticed. Anyone wishing to provide comments on any case before the Hearing Examiner may do so by sending their comments either by regular mail or by email to the assigned staff planner. All comments received prior to the date of the hearing will be included in the record.
The Hearing Examiner is not a judge and formal courtroom rules of evidence do not apply. The term "quasi-judicial" means "as if judicial". That is why public notice of the Examiner's hearing, the Examiner's written rules of procedure, and the character of the hearing are all designed to provide a meaningful opportunity to be heard, an impartial decision, and the reasoning for that decision in writing, publicly available. Any participant who has reason to doubt that the Hearing Examiner would be impartial in a given matter has a right to raise that issue prior to the hearing.
A hearing generally begins with a presentation by the applicant, followed by presentation of the staff report, then testimony from the general public in support, questions of concern, or opposition to the proposal. Testimony may be followed by a brief period of rebuttal in which the applicant is asked to respond only to issues previously mentioned. Time limits will be allowed at the discretion of the Hearing Examiner; relevant testimony that is not repetitive is encouraged.
At the close of the hearing participants are advised that a written decision will be issued within thirty working days. Once the hearing is closed, no further testimony, (written or oral) can be accepted unless to respond to specific question form the Hearing Examiner. The applicant or any county department may appeal any final decision of the Hearing Examiner to the Board of County Commissioners.
Chief Hearing Examiner: Mark Strain
Address: 2800 North Horseshoe Drive
Naples, Florida 34104