During a special meeting of the Palmetto Bay Village Council on Jan. 9 proposed changes to the DUV (Downtown Urban Village) were discussed, with an eye to limiting the scale of development.
A proposed ordinance, sponsored by Vice Mayor John DuBois, was on the agenda for discussion and presentations by Councilmember Marsha Matson suggesting serious reductions in the number of residential units and the height of buildings, and by a lobbyist regarding the development.
Mayor Karyn Cunningham explained her view of the meeting.
“I think this is the first step as we start to inch our way forward on this,” Cunningham said. “I think this is going to be one of a series of conversations on this, and I have a feeling that at the end it won’t be one way or the other way, but a meeting of minds as we put our heads together and get a consensus on all the parts of our downtown plan.”
Village resident Eric Tolberg took the microphone to express a concern of his own.
“One of the things that needs to be addressed in the code is the number of parking spaces,” he said.
Tolberg noted that he rides his bicycle everywhere but that he and his wife have two cars and he is sure that most people moving into the planned residential areas will use multiple cars instead of public transportation.
Vice Mayor John Dubois suggested getting the opinions of two or three land use attorneys if the changes are going to be extensive.
“If we don’t take that tack and we do something a little more conservative, as I think I was suggesting with the ordinance here, I’m not as concerned about getting legal in on our exposure to lawsuits. I think they’re reasonable enough to be defensible.”
He then suggested some changes to his own ordinance based on Councilmember Marsha Matson’s presentation.
Councilmember David Singer, who has previously opposed any changes, expressed his view.
“I can’t see this village surviving if we have four years in litigation as we did with Palmer Trinity.”
He said he is concerned about “mega-litigation,” if rights are taken away from developers. He also is concerned that if massive reductions to the current planned developments are carried out that no future investors will want to take a chance on doing anything in the village.
Future debates about this issue are likely in the coming weeks and months.