Grove Watch Group Digest – Summer 2018

Grove Watch Group issues a periodic digest of information that pertains to protecting the character of Coconut Grove which makes our home such a desirable place to live and work.

Neighborhood Conservation District Changes Approved 8-1 BY PZAB!

There was a strong show of community support at the Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board meeting on June 20, 2018. Neighbors from across the Grove spoke intelligently, factually and from the heart about the need to preserve our unique and special community. Individuals and Homeowners Associations came together to urge the PZAB to approve the document. At the meeting, 28 people spoke in support of the NCD changes while only 8 did not support the changes. Our City Commissioners will be the next group to consider these changes at their meeting on September 27, 2018 at City Hall. Please plan to attend and show your support.

To view the latest version of the NCD proposed legislation: http://www.miamigov.com/planning/ncd.html

Proposed Changes to the Neighborhood Conservation District: Why Should We Support This?

Thirteen years ago, a Neighborhood Conservation District (NCD) zoning overlay was established in Coconut Grove to preserve our unique character and to protect our tree canopy.

After more than two years of public meetings and input from Coconut Grove stakeholders, the City has proposed a reasonable and carefully considered update to the NCD overlay.

The proposed changes will:

  1. Increase green space and canopy area
  2. Encourage architectural diversity
  3. Preserve the heritage and history of Village West
  4. Offer incentives to help spur affordable housing
  5. Define clear criteria to minimize lot-splitting
  6. Establish guidelines for new construction that are comparable to surrounding municipalities and align with neighborhood characteristics

These changes help preserve the character and desirability of our neighborhoods, both primary driving factors that determine our property values.

In order to protect our character, tree canopy and property values, this update must be approved!

The NCD update is supported by the following community organizations:

  • Coconut Grove Village Council
  • Village West Homeowners and Tenants Association
  • Coconut Grove Park Homeowners Association
  • Grove 2030
  • Grove Watch Group
  • The Village of Center Grove

How Can You Personally Support the NCD Changes?

  1. Spread the word to neighbors and friends!
  2. If you have not already signed the petition (link below) calling for reasonable Floor/Lot Ratio (FLR), please do! Sign and share!
    https://www.change.org/p/city-commissioner-ken-russell-reduce-the-allowable-size-of-new-homes-built-in-coconut-grove-to-50-of-the-lot-area/u/23052592
  3. Attend the City Commission Meeting on Sept. 27, 2017. Even if you do not speak, there is strength in numbers!
  4. Communicate with our commissioners- your opinion is important to them. Our input will be noted and the more emails they receive, the better they understand our wishes. As we are the ones who will live with the results of future development, our voices are crucial. If we do not speak up now, we will live with the consequences. Every commissioner has a vote and there must be 3 “yes” votes to pass, so contacting every commissioner is critical.

Below is prepared text that you can copy and paste into an email if you wish:

Dear Commissioner,

I would like to urge you to support the proposed Neighborhood Conservation District changes recommended by the Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board on June 20, 2018. This is a resident-driven and widely supported effort to protect and preserve our neighborhoods. In our highly desirable location, Coconut Grove is experiencing a huge influx of investors, many of whom develop properties that are degrading the character of our community for short term gain and personal profit. These investors then move on to other cities. Residents, meanwhile, are left to live with the consequences of increased density, decreased canopy, lot splitting and new homes that maximize every possible inch of green space, devaluing our neighborhoods and quality of life.

After more than two years of public meetings and input from Coconut Grove stakeholders, the City has proposed a reasonable and carefully considered update to the NCD overlay. The proposed changes will benefit both residents and investors, providing a clear set of guidelines designed to enhance our quality of life and home values:

  1. Increase green space and canopy area
  2. Encourage architectural diversity
  3. Preserve the heritage and history of Village West
  4. Offer incentives to help spur affordable housing
  5. Define clear criteria to minimize lot-splitting
  6. Establish guidelines for new construction that are comparable to surrounding municipalities and align with neighborhood characteristics

These changes strike a reasonable balance between development and preservation. Please do not delay or defer this item! When passed, this legislation will be the legacy of this Commission. The impact of this decision will be felt for generations and will be of immense value to our community. For these reasons, I ask that you vote to approve the proposed Neighborhood Conservation District legislation.

Sincerely,

Here are the email addresses of the commissioners who will be making this important decision:
District 1 Commissioner Willy Gort wgort@miamigov.com
District 2 Commissioner Ken Russell krussell@miamigov.com
District 3 Commissioner Joe Carollo jcarollo@miamigov.com
District 4 Commissioner Manolo Reyes mreyes@miamigov.com
District 5 Commissioner Keon Hardemon khardemon@miamigov.com

Village West Multiple Property Designation: Preserving Our Heritage

On July 16, 2018, the Historic and Environmental Protection Board evaluated approximately 51 homes by individually reviewing each property using criteria, data and findings provided by the City Preservation Office. Most were designated historic while a few were removed from the list as they did not meet the criteria. There was much discussion about the expense involved for owners. However, there is no requirement for repairs or renovation. At the meeting, one Charles Avenue resident whose home has been designated historic commented, “I have been confused by the discussion about maximizing profits for developers and landlords when the question is about preserving the history of the community”.

Many community meetings have been held in Village West to discuss this issue and educate residents about the preservation of designated wood frame vernacular homes which represent the rich Bahamian influence of this neighborhood. This effort seeks to preserve these structures and to honor the contributions of Coconut Grove’s earliest residents in this neighborhood. Commissioner Russell and his staff have made preservation in Village West a priority. Many avenues are “on the table” in attempts to halt the continued loss of the heritage of Village West.
http://amp.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/coconut-grove/article215046640.html

NCD: The City Needs a “Coconut Grove Specialist”

Grove Watch Group will be focused on pursuing the addition of a “Coconut Grove NCD Specialist” position in our Planning and Zoning Department. This would be a position dealing with Grove concerns only and with single point contact and accountability. The topic of NCD enforcement is a recurring theme in Coconut Grove. Residents continuously report violations and appeal Intended Decisions in order to protect our neighborhoods. This position would address the need for oversight, adherence and enforcement in the Grove. Our NCD Code is meaningless if it is not followed and enforced.

Follow-up Regarding Florida Senate Bill 574: Tree Legislation

This legislation would prohibit local governments from regulating the “trimming, removal, or harvesting of tree and timber on private property”.

Update:

Legislation indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration. Good News!

Link to Florida Senate Bill History:
https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2018/00574

Link to further information in Grove Watch Group Digest, February 2018:
http://www.grovewatchgroup.com/

Consequences of Increased Density in the Grove: Bicycle Safety

We are very lucky to live in an area with designated bicycle paths and bicycle lanes. These are well used, especially on weekends when so many of our neighbors take advantage of them. However, as population density increases in the Grove, so does the number of cars on our streets. 27th Avenue was the scene of a car/ bicycle accident involving one of our residents. Fortunately, his injuries were not extensive. However, car and bicycle traffic are issues for all of us. Bringing more cars to Coconut Grove with the many new condo and office buildings popping up will make it even more crucial for everyone to be vigilant.

Link to ABC news coverage of incident:
https://www.local10.com/news/bicyclists-camera-catches-moment-he-is-struck-by-car-in-bike-lane

Link to Florida bicycle regulations for motorists:
http://floridabicycle.org/for-motorists/

And Finally, We Love Our Dogs!
(Sign posted in South Grove)

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