Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Now The Hard Work Begins

The biggest issue for our new commission is how to move the Village forward.   

To do that, we need a shared vision 

It was deeply evident in the workshop last night on the Causeway redevelopment project that the shared vision is no longer in place.  

Equally evident is that it is very possible to get it right with some effort.   

The developers (understandably) want a simplified, unified code that will facilitate the construction on their properties.  

The village administration want a new tax base and increased revenue.  

The residents want the access to Bay that we were promised and a plan to fix the broken infrastructure.   

At points these are in conflict.  It was unclear what the traffic impact and visual impact of new building will be.   There is no laid out plan for parking and traffic improvement and in my view, too little attention paid to pedestrian access and the types of businesses we want to attract.  

The developers did themselves no favors last month by participating in the sneaky "special" meeting with the previous commission which passed everything they wanted with remarkably little discussion and our planning team need to seriously step up their communication skills.   

The new commission will have a chance to address this.  

The first thing they should do is reject the ordinance as written and instruct the planners to create several separate ordinances.  

There needs to be an ordinance governing mixed use residential and commercial projects, an ordinance addressing the requirements of hotel construction, another ordinance dealing with how impact fees can be spent, and a unifying ordinance requiring and enforcing bayfront access.  

The several other points brought up the ordinance regarding fence sizes on corner, boat lifts, sign sizes and other issues need to be separate, amendable pieces of legislation.   

The commission needs to focus on the issue of shared parking.  The developers and planners envision a parking process that is solely focused on each individual project - the retail store, the restaurant, the office, the hotel, the condos - will all have required parking but if we are to make this a destination competing with the likes of Miami Beach or Wynwood, we also need shared parking, a place to put the car for people who want to wander around.  

The intention of the village in 2007 was to develop public parking on the lot shared by the Grandview next to Happy's.  Build a structure that will fit the court mandated requirements for the Grandview parking and create a space for paid, casual parking to alleviate the pressure on the proposed projects.   In an ill considered move last month, the commission removed the covenant that required only parking for this lot and laid the groundwork for yet another ugly storage facility.  

The new commission should seek competent legal counsel and repeal the illegal resolution as a top priority.  The previous commission never had the right to set aside a court settlement and this has to get fixed.  

Then the administration needs to have a focused, truly informational workshop with the residents.  It needs to include visual samples, traffic studies, and clearly laid out development recommendations.  

Further, the administration needs to present the projected financial impact on the Village and the projected use of the funds generated by the impact fees.  

It would be a good idea to bring in some actual urban planning so that issues not of concern to the the developers are on the table as well to ensure issues like recreation, parking, and what kind of businesses we look for are included in the plans.  

The residents for their part need to take the developers' promises with a grain of salt.  We've been lied to before and it's important to remember that the previous commission was entirely funded by the developers.  Their needs matter but do not overrule ours.  It's our bayfront, not a private profit center.  

There will be a lot more on this so watch this space.  

Kevin Vericker
November 21, 2018

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