Zapata seeks moratorium on new development in district

“Worsening traffic” in Kendall has caused Miami-Dade Commissioner Juan C. Zapata to seek an administrative building moratorium throughout District 11, according to a memorandum from him sent to Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez and county commission chair Jean Monestime on Apr. 7.

Zapata would halt all new residential and commercial development “until we can develop a comprehensive plan that significantly alters the current path of the District,” he stated in an email message to district residents on Apr 8.

“Excessive traffic congestion negatively impacts the lives of residents countywide, but residents of the West End suffer substantially more than the average Miami-Dade County resident,” he stated.

Potential for such a moratorium will get an initial hearing on May 10 by the county commission’s sub-committee for Strategic Planning and Government Operations which Zapata chairs. The request that his item be placed on the agenda for discussion was made by Commissioner Rebecca Sosa, committee vice chair.

Such a building blackout would require a “comprehensive determination” of existing zoning prior to issuance of an order eliminating District 11 from current zoning restrictions, according to the Miami-Dade County Code (Sec. 33-319),

Before ordered, commissioners would need to review reasons for considering such a moratorium and schedule a public hearing “as soon as reasonably practical,” according to code provisions.

In his formal request to Gimenez and Monestime, Zapata sharply criticizes Gimenez’s transportation and planning efforts, stating he is “dismayed by the lack of commitment and courage to identify and finance viable solutions that would mitigate traffic congestion or expand the availability of reliable transportation options.

As an example, he pointed to “an area of grave concern…north of Bird Road which has been overwhelmed by RU-1MA homes.” The classification applies to zero-lot line construction that allows six units per acre.

“Although these lot sizes are allowed, good planning and zoning should seek a heterogeneous mix of residential lot sizes,” his statement continued.

“Instead, the Administration’s Planning and Zoning Department consistently and without hesitation allows these types of developments while ignoring accepted planning principles of diversity within neighborhoods,“ he stated, charging that the present zoning code is “weak and ineffective.”

He further criticized Gimenez’s Administration’s Planning and Zoning Department that “consistently and without hesitation” allows zero-lot line development “while ignoring accepted planning principles of diversity within neighborhoods,”adding, “Unfortunately, our weak and ineffective code allows for this type of development to continue.

“In the few instances this has come up before the commission, I have brought this point up with county staff and tried to push back (and) I continue to seek input and suggestions from staff on creating a better zoning overlay for my district,” he noted, referring to his “West End Strategy: A Vision for the Future” strategic action plan to upgrade and improve both transportation and economic engines in the West End of West Kendall.

A formal resolution requesting Miami-Dade commissioners to call for a moratorium on development throughout the unincorporated area west of Florida’s Turnpike was unanimously voted by the 10-member board of the Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations on Jan. 28. That moratorium would ban on all building west of Florida’s Turnpike from SW 42nd Street (Bird Road) south to SW 152nd Street (Coral Reef Drive).

If Zapata’s move is approved, the moratorium would expand to a larger area in the northeast district area — at one point, as far east as SW 107th Avenue that would prohibit new building at Florida International University. The institution on Apr. 12 announced plans for a $150 million engineering center on the disputed park grounds currently leased to the Miami-Dade Youth Fair.

Mayor Gimenez already has rejected the proposed KFHA moratorium, commenting through Michael Hernandez, director of communications, that such action would not be a “silver bullet,” recommending reduction of congestion through a comprehensive transportation system proposed by Miami-Dade Transportation director Alice Bravo.

“A building moratorium is not the answer,” said Truly Burton, executive director of the Builders Association of South Florida, in a commentary regarding the KFHA action. BASF believes implementing a countywide transit program is the answer.

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