Homestead lifts residential moratorium but adopts restrictions
By Tanja Edwards
The City of Homestead has lifted its partial moratorium on residential development but has adopted an ordinance that restricts most residential development to no more than six units per acre.
"The quality, reputable developers can live with six units per acre," said Vice Mayor Steve Losner. "It only chilled the bottom feeders."
The moratorium, which took effect last August, restricted residential development to no more than six units per acre. This was put in place because of the explosion in development that the school district was unable to keep up with, Mr. Losner said.
In addition, the ratio of home ownership was 70% rental property and 30% owner-occupied in Homestead, the opposite of what city officials wanted, he said.
"What was left for development was on the east side of US 1, the potato fields," Mr. Losner said. "They were being contacted by high-density developers."
During the moratorium, the city's planners met to determine the best development mix for Homestead, including both a maximum number of units per acre and minimum square footages for these units, based on number of bedrooms, he said. The city commission received the recommendations and passed the changes as an ordinance in June.
The ordinance, which took effect July 1, continues to limit residential development to no more than six units per acre, except along bus lines. There, developers can build up to 10 units per acre.
The new rules ban duplexes but allow townhouses, to encourage developers to build units that people would own rather than rent, Mr. Losner said.
The practice of stacking also is now prohibited in the building code. Stacking takes place when land is zoned for multi-family use, up to 10 units per acre, but builders can also build single-family units and duplexes or townhouses. Mr. Losner said stacking has led to developments with a hodge-podge of developments, mixing multi-family units with single-family units in one development. Now, each development will only have one type of plan.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the city allowed very small houses and apartments, as small as 550 square feet, Mr. Losner said. Under the new ordinance, new houses and apartments must be larger. For example, a two-bedroom apartment must be at least 1,000 square feet and for each bedroom added, the size must be increased 150 square feet. Town homes must start at 1,200 square feet and increase in size with added bedrooms.
Several projects will soon be underway with the new ordinance in effect, Mr. Losner said. M&H Homestead Partners has several thousand acres under development at the Village of Homestead and Keys Gate
Also, Mr. Losner said, Landstar Development Corp. owns 1,000 acres east of the Florida Turnpike between Campbell and Biscayne drives.
"Most of the developable farmland east of US 1 is under contract," he said.
As a result, he said, land prices have skyrocketed in the past couple years, from $25,000 an acre to $175,000.
"Lennar is here, Caribe is here," he said. "Just about everyone is here."