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Ave Maria University growth plan displeases Sierra Club

Plans by a Catholic university to create a new campus and town could threaten the Everglades, an environmental activist group said.

Ave Maria University, which opened with just over 100 students in September, is temporarily housed in a converted senior citizens' center. But the university formed a joint venture with Barron Collier Cos. to develop a new campus and town _ both to be named Ave Maria _ on 4,300 acres between Naples and Immokalee by 2006.

That would "threaten the Everglades ecosystem," according to Sierra Club literature. But the club has not "adopted a plan of action" to oppose the development, said Frank Jackalone, its staff director in St. Petersburg.

Ave Maria University was begun by Domino's Pizza founder Thomas S. Monaghan.