Developers could start feeling Miami 21 pinch soon
By Risa Polansky
Eastern Miami developers may be the first to feel the effects of Miami 21, the city's proposed zoning code and blueprint for its future, should city commissioners give final approval to an ordinance passed by the Planning Advisory Board last week.
The ordinance would suspend permitting for projects in Miami's east quadrant — including downtown and Brickell — under the existing city zoning code for 180 days or until the commission votes on the eastern quadrant portion of Miami 21, which the advisory board also approved last week.
The commission's final vote is scheduled for June 28.
Commissioners will see the zoning-in-progress ordinance May 24, with a final reading scheduled for June 14.
If the ordinance is passed, a development application that "follows the new zoning procedure can move forward," said Arva Moore Parks, chairwoman of the advisory board. "You just have to follow the new code."
The ordinance would give city commissioners "time to thoughtfully consider enactment of the new zoning regulations," said Maria J. Chiaro, division chief of land use, zoning and environmental law in the city attorney's office.
The idea is to stunt a possible influx of developers seeking special permits and land-use changes that don't comply with the new code before its approval.
Applications filed before zoning in progress is enacted would proceed under the existing zoning code, as will projects already in the city's pipeline.
The bigger issue is that developers in areas outside the east quadrant can continue business as usual whether zoning in progress is passed or not, Ms. Moore Parks said.
"Many people on the board are concerned that it does not apply to the rest of the quadrants," she said.
An early draft of the zoning-in-progress ordinance included the whole city, but Miami administrators say they can't regulate permitting in areas of the city for which there is not a proposal for a new zoning code.
That opens the door for the continuation of a rush for land-use changes the advisory board has been experiencing in recent months, Ms. Moore Parks said.
She said she plans to continue to push for a citywide zoning-in-progress ordinance to provide for an efficient segue into Miami 21.
The new zoning code, if approved, would call for smooth transitions between buildings of different heights and densities and for building designs that allow for more public space — "the things that will make us a better city and ultimately make a better project," Ms. Moore Parks said.
Miami 21 would require all projects of 50,000 square feet or more to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified, a measure pushed by Miami Mayor Manny Diaz. The mayor, before the planning advisory board's vote, called Miami 21 "more than just a master plan" and "a lasting legacy to those who will call Miami home long after we are gone."