Permitting hiatus to go to city with Miami 21
By Risa Polansky
A zoning-in-progress ordinance previously scheduled for Miami City Commission consideration ahead of the eastern quadrant portion of citywide blueprint Miami 21 is to appear along with it at a special commission meeting devoted to the new master plan.
A meeting date has yet to be set, but city administration intends to schedule it before the commission's August recess, said Luciana Gonzalez, planning department spokesman.
Zoning in progress, if approved, would suspend the permitting process of development applications for projects proposed for Miami's east quadrant — including downtown and Brickell — under the existing city zoning code for 180 days or until Miami 21 becomes effective.
It was to have come before the commission for initial approval in May and final approval this month, all before a Miami 21 vote, 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.
"As the legal department began to understand the needs of the city and zoning in progress in general, that has evolved," Ms. Gonzalez said. "Without Miami 21, zoning in progress cannot move forward."
The plan now is for the ordinance to come into effect if commissioners give Miami 21 initial approval at the special meeting.
This way, Ms. Gonzalez said, zoning in progress would regulate permitting for the 180 days following, or until commissioners officially enact the new zoning code after a second vote.
Requests that comply with Miami 21 are to move forward regardless.
The city's Planning Advisory Board approved in April both zoning in progress and the eastern quadrant portion of Miami 21.
"I'd hoped a year ago we'd have zoning in progress," said Arva Moore Parks, planning board chair.
The city has seen, she said, an increase in land use change requests since Miami 21, which calls for smooth transitions between buildings of different heights and densities, came under discussion.
Applications filed before zoning in progress is enacted have been proceeding and will continue to proceed under the existing zoning code, as will projects already in the city's pipeline.
The bigger issue is, Ms. Moore Parks said, developers in areas of the city outside the east quadrant can continue business as usual whether zoning in progress is passed or not.
"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 did include the whole city, but Miami administrators say they can't regulate permitting in areas of the city for which there is not yet a proposed new zoning code.
This opens the door for the continuation of a rush for land-use changes, 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.
"I've been working on it," she said. "I believe there could be a more generic one for the rest of the city, mostly dealing with land-use changes. That's what I think we need a handle on."