A five member Homestead City Council met Wednesday February 26 to further discuss a development moratorium for the City.
Development Services Director Joseph Corradino summarized his presentation on the policy and direction of the option. His outline included the basis for adoption, the scope of a building freeze, exemptions from it, past moratorium history, and comprehensive planning maps of the City.
City Council discussed goals for a development halt based on concerns about housing density, traffic, a moratorium’s length, neighborhood character or design, and future growth.
City Attorney James White termed a moratorium the City’s “growth management tool.”
“It puts the brakes on certain types of development while you examine and analyze various aspects such as transportation planning and adequate public
facilities,” he said.
Councilmember Larry Roth was opposed to a moratorium. “I agree with doing a traffic study and other things but why does it take a moratorium? Moratorium is not a business-friendly term.”
“A whole comprehensive overview of the master plan would take a very long time,” said Roth.
Roth asked staff for City areas remaining for development. Staff said there are bits and pieces of vacant land around the City totaling about 500 or 600 acres.
Director Corradino presented a map of City land showing a few vacant tracts in the DRI in the southeast.
“There were 9865 units allowed in the DRI; 7160 have been built with 1054 approved but not yet built,” Corradino said. “About 16% remain of the total, leaving 1646 units to the east, combined with 1200 units available to the west of the turnpike. We are kind of at the end of our development cycle .”
Councilmember Jenifer Bailey said it was important to exempt senior
citizen and affordable housing and the southwest neighborhood from a building delay.
“With Homestead Station, there have been more proposals for building in the southwest than in the last few years,” Bailey said. “There has to be a way to protect that as well as the downtown area a certain distance from the transportation corridor.”
Councilmember Sean Fletcher reviewed the impact of a recent approval for 770 new townhouses. The need for police officers would increase to 192 positions with an additional 1600 units to be built. He said the average of 1.88 cars per household would lead to even more congestion.
Fletcher said his priorities from the staff summary were adequate public services and diverse housing, balancing townhouses and multi-family units with other type homes.
“It all comes down to density,” he said. “The message of the campaigns was that the community wanted less density.”
Councilmember Patricia Fairclough-Staggers said she was not feeling strongly either way about a moratorium. She said her priorities were diverse housing, the transportation network, and a review of redevelopment in the northwest.
Mayor Steve Losner who led the workshop discussion asked, “For a litigation-proof moratorium, is it more appropriate to lay the foundation for enactment by nailing down the goals and problem issues before selecting the areas for a moratorium?”
Corradino and Attorney White referred to the summary issues to be addressed with a temporary hold on development. White said, “We’re starting with a one year moratorium, and based on the analysis, we can then show we’re making progress with a study.”
In discussing neighborhood exemptions from a development hold, Mayor Losner said, “We need to realize that there will be redevelopment (of existing housing) as we’re the last frontier for county development. This could be our last shot to get it right.”
“I want to take the temperature of my colleagues to see if there is an appetite for going forward and enacting a moratorium,” said the Mayor.
There appeared to be an emerging consensus to exempt the northwest and southwest neighborhoods from any potential moratorium as well as the downtown corridor, senior and affordable housing, commercial and industrial development, and residential building for six units or less per acre.
A divided Council did not take a vote on the issue. Council selected March 19 as its next planned development moratorium workshop.