Homestead City Council approved a development of 770 residences west of Kingman Road at its meeting on April 17.
The project plans to build 117 single homes, 349 townhomes and 304 villas on 85 acres west of Kingman Road, north of Palm Drive and south of SW 328th Street, straddling Town Centre Boulevard.
Council actively engaged in negotiations during the four and a half hour discussion with developer Lennar Homes represented by Carlos Gonzalez. Attorney Hugo Arza spoke at length for the applicant.
The approval process required consideration of six individual zoning items. In addition, Council subsequently approved an amendment to City Code allowing rule variances for signs and for private streets if an unnecessary hardship, as was done in this case.
First, an amendment to the DRI (development of regional impact) swapped 134 units from other sections into the 85 acre area from the total 9860 future residential units originally allowed. At the March Council meeting, the developer said anything less than this number of units was not econo-
A variance request ]permitted twenty foot wide private streets for the development instead of twenty-four foot wide streets in order to fit all units onto the property.
A site plan and tentative plat for the property entitled “Keys Gate III Trust” required approval for the builders to get started.
Two final items established a new community development district (CDD) to oversee infrastructure plus creation of a special taxing district (STD) for the new community. The County approves CDDs, requiring local government acceptance because such districts are essentially the community’s local government. Developers issue bonds for infrastructure such as clubhouses, pools, parks, utilities and roads as an alternative to construction and long-term management. The argument is that this makes an initial home purchase affordable. Residents pay off those bonds monthly over years.
An STD funds community maintenance to “ensure the availability of public facilities and services”, according to City staff material. Staffing material cites land use goals as “avoiding undue concentration of population” and discouraging “the proliferation of urban sprawl” by locating within the existing DRI..
Councilmember Jon Burgess questioned the 1975 traffic study that vested traffic counts thus exempting projects in the DRI. Staff said a trip generation analysis was done through the County and explained the methodology. Major infrastructure – Kingman’s four-lane highway – is already in place allowing approval of the development without requiring further traffic improvements. Applicant’s attorney said traffic options for the project were explored with the County. The applicant planned to pay the City $200,000 to help mitigate traffic impacts of the new subdivision.
Councilmember Burgess was told the cost of a new stoplight was between $300,000 and $500,000. He suggested two new lights along the affected corridors, particularly at Town Centre Boulevard just before Keys Gate Charter School.
Councilmember Larry Roth asked about the City’s ability to pay for stoplights and was told County permission was needed. Staff said a County study could take three months and installation might take another six to twelve months or longer.
Councilmember Jenifer Bailey noted the developer’s $200,000 mitigation and said, “As traffic is one of the biggest concerns, can I suggest one stoplight?”
Under site plan discussion, applicants agreed with Councilmember Bailey’s request and upped their contribution to $500,000 for a traffic light at Towne Centre & Kingman Road if possible.
An unusual number of public comments were offered on the plan, both for and against. Attorney Tucker Gibbs was retained by the Keys Gate Seven Condo Association to oppose the development due to population density with increased traffic and the impact of the community’s five access points to the area.
On the issue of moving 134 planned units into the development area, Council voted five to two for approval, Mayor Stephen Shelley and Councilman Burgess voting no.
Council voted unanimously to approve the developer’s variance request for twenty foot wide private streets.
For site plan approval, Council negotiated the construction of the development’s Clubhouse based on Councilmember Patricia Fairclough request. Mr. Gonzalez for Lennar agreed to pull a clubhouse
permit when the 300th unit was constructed in the development.
Councilmember Burgess requested that one exit to Kingman Drive closest to the school be eliminated because of excessive traffic. The applicant agreed to add a pocket park to the southern community as a replacement. The Councilmember asked that the buildings lining Kingman Drive be broken up and painted different colors for visual appeal. The applicant agreed to re-engineer as long as total units were the same. They also agreed to vary paint colors, add exterior shutters on the rear facing Kingman and use exterior beams to break up the long façades.
Attorney Arza reminded Council the development would generate $1.3 million in extra taxes annually for Homestead when completed.
On the issue of site plan approval, Council voted six to one with Mayor Shelley voting no. On the tentative plat plan, Council again voted six to one with Mayor Shelley voting no. A final plat plan must come back to Council for
Council voted approval by four to three for a new community development district where cost of improvements was estimated at $15.7 million. Voting yes were Maldonado, Bailey, Fairclough and Guzman. Voting no were Roth, Burgess and Shelley.
Finally, on the issue of a special taxing district, Council voted unanimously to approve.