Doral commission to vote next month on building moratorium
By Claudio Mendonça
Doral officials are to take a final vote Feb. 26 on a six-month building moratorium. If a moratorium is approved, most permit applications filed after Jan. 1 will be held until a city master plan is drawn.
The aim is to avoid disorderly development. Currently, Doral is under Miami-Dade County's master plan.
Exceptions to a moratorium would include day-care centers and schools and projects already approved by the city council or the county commission unless they are amended to increase density.
Last week, the mayor, vice mayor and three council members unanimously approved a six-month halt in permitting. The February vote will be final.
Currently, 229 permit applications, half of which are residential, await approval.
Since Doral became a city, 217 applications have been approved. The total value of pending commercial applications is $5.9 million, with residential applications valued at $12.2 million.
"The city has worked effectively with community developers," said council member Robert Van Name. "The master plan will provide a direction for the city."
Doral has faced drastic changes, Mr. Van Name said, undergoing a transformation from an industrial base to a residential and commercial neighborhood.
"A master plan allows the city to gradually progress in the right direction," Mr. Van Name said. "We are pleased with developer support."
"No developer is ever happy with moratoriums, but a new comprehensive plan makes sense," said Stanley Price of Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod, attorney for developer Shoma Homes. "A US Supreme Court decision states that a moratorium is a proper planning tool if used in a correct manner. Hopefully, the issue can be resolved before we have to go for additional permits."
Shoma is building a mixed-use development at 3600 NW 82nd St., the former site of Ryder Center. Mr. Price said Shoma filed most of its permit applications before Jan. 1.
Sergio Pino, chairman of Century Builders Group, said opposes a halt to construction. His company is developing 3,000 lots in Doral and would not be affected, he said. but he said he is concerned with the future of smaller builders.
"Many builders do not have the inventory," Mr. Pino said. "So here comes the city and all of a sudden imposes a moratorium. I can understand when you don't have the infrastructure such as sewage services, water and so on. But this is not the case."
Mr. Pino said there is a demand for housing now, while interest rates are still low. "We don't know what might happen six months from now," he said.
There would be an appeal process if a moratorium is approved, said city attorney John Hearth.