Ave Maria Rural Lands Stewardship Area

Ave Maria FL was the first community approved in Collier County's Rural Lands Stewardship Area (RLSA). The RLSA was implemented to control growth on private lands that would protect natural resources and highly valued environmental lands.

Prior to this private/public RLSA agreement, landowners in the RLSA were restricted to building one home for each five-acre lot. This would result in wide rural sprawl, with homes on lots requiring an interconnecting canal system to control storm drainage and flooding. Like the image shown here.

Motivations for the landowners and Collier County were in alignment. With the RLSA in place, landowners could develop under planned urban development guidelines that could be approved by the county under long-range growth plans.

Collier County Rural Lands Stewardship

With the RLSA zoning in place, new developments can only be approved if other lands in the RLSA are permanently set aside as non-developable private lands. The RLSA covers 185,000 acres, of which 130,000 acres will be permanently protected. There is a detailed formula as to how many acres are set aside for each developed acre. Overall, the property exchange averages three acres of set aside lands, to one developed acre.
The set aside acres are referred to as Stewardship Sending Areas (SSA), allowing other acres to be developed. The areas to be developed are the Stewardship Receiving Areas (SRA), acres that were previously agricultural lands. The town of Ave Maria was the first approved SRA. In exchange for the original 5,000 acres to be developed, approximately 17,000 acres were set aside as (SSA's).

Also approved is the Rural Lands West Stewardship Receiving area. This area will have the Town of Big Cypress, Rivergrass and Bellmar. The Town of Big Cypress and the Village of Rivergrass, received Collier County approval in 2023 to begin construction. The developer of those communities has also set aside thousands of acres.

With the Stewardship program the area has planned growth, vs wild rural sprawl.

Tour of Collier County Rural Stewardship Lands

Experienced Naples Area Real Estate Agent
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