David Villano of Grove 2030 made the following statement regarding the NCD workshops this weekend and on October 28th. We can’t stress enough how important it is for AS MANY Coconut Grove residents who support reasonable improvements in the NCD to show up and support the efforts to improve the NCD, which is truly at the heart of protecting the character of our neighborhoods.
If you are available please attend and bring any and all ideas or simply support the common sense proposals that have been presented to the city. We think there is a small but well connected opposition to getting the NCD changed and as such we need our voices to be many and strong.
Please tell your neighbors and friends to attend as well if they can the more support and involvement the better.
Zoning Code Workshops: A Battleground for the Future of Coconut Grove
Over two Saturday mornings this month the City of Miami Planning Department will solicit public feedback on changes to Coconut Grove’s zoning code. The stakes are enormous: preserving property values; promoting affordability; protecting jobs; and preserving the unique quality of life we have come to enjoy. Every Coconut Grove resident should attend.
The Grove’s zoning code – known as the Neighborhood Conservation Districts 2 & 3 – were adopted a little over a decade ago to better protect the unique village character of Coconut Grove. Its legislative intent is clearly stated: “to preserve the historic, heavily landscaped character of Coconut Grove’s residential areas; enhance and protect Coconut Grove’s natural features such as the tree canopy and green space; and protect the architectural variety within the unique single-family neighborhoods that comprise Coconut Grove.”
To be sure, the code falls woefully short. Tree canopy is shrinking; architectural variety is disappearing; lots sizes are dimensioning; homes are demolished and the lots left bare; and quiet, leafy neighborhoods are giving way to white canyons of concrete forever altering the Grove’s subtropical village character.
While some blame lays, undoubtedly, with lax and indifferent City enforcement, the NCD code has much room for improvement. To that end, Grove 2030, the Coconut Grove Village Council, GroveWatch and other civic groups have collaborated on a year-long effort to identify flaws in the existing NCDs and to recommend measures to fix them. Here are a few:
- Adjust the allowable size (Floor Area Ratio or FAR) of new single-family homes to levels similar to that of other Miami-Dade municipalities.
- Discourage “land banking” by imposing financial penalties on developers who demolish homes with no pending plans to rebuild.
- Increase building setbacks for new construction in single-family districts.
- Increase and promote financial incentives for property owners to preserve older structures.
- Enhance greenspace protections and planting requirements.
- Creation of a Community Advisory Board to assist City officials in code implementation and enforcement.
These and other recommendations were presented to District 2 Commissioner Ken Russell and to City of Miami Planning & Zoning Director Francisco Garcia in February. Since then, their enthusiasm to adopt most, if not all, of these changes has waned in response to lobbying by opposition groups: real estate interests which profit from neighborhood redevelopment; and commercial stakeholders in the Grove who promote a broader, less restrictive agenda for zoning code revisions.
Opposition to these common-sense measures is small, but well financed. We need your voice, your input and your ideas for strengthening our zoning code in a way that will benefit all our residents. For more information contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(The City of Miami Planning Department’s public workshops for changes to the Coconut Grove zoning code will be Saturday Oct. 14 and Saturday Oct. 28, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Ambrister Park’s multi-purpose room, located at 400 Grand Ave. For more information contact the City of Miami’s Sue Trone (305- 416-1445; STrone@miamigov.com) or Jacqueline Ellis (305-416-1446; JEllis@miamigov.com).