Updates on the Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit (SMART) line starting from Pinecrest and continuing south into Florida City.
A majority of the Miami Board of County Commissioners feel the county should encourage maximum development adjacent to the existing transit line in order to 1) build the numbers (potential riders) required by the federal
government to support the new improved (partially funded with federal grants) transit line and 2) that there’s enough density to generate funds through the Transit Tax Increment District to fund the County’s portion of the Transit infrastructure over time.
With that being the prevailing theory, Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava insisted that such changes couldn’t go into effect without adopting a zoning ordinance, and she is pushing for community involvement and input. Levine Cava pointed out that the original plans involved community ‘charrettes’ (meetings) and this new effort needs to as well.
Staff at Miami-Dade Planning and Zoning were posed with the following questions:
What is the maximum height and density of any proposed development along the transit way? Charts of Princeton show height limits of three to six stories with a density minimum of 12 to a max of 52 units per acre. Some community members have suspected that those numbers are deflated and in reality, 102 units ranging up to 15 stories has been approved. The Leisure City maps show three to six stories with 12 to 98 units per acre. This response begs the question as to whether 98 units per acre can be built in six stories?
As of October 2019, the maximum density along the County’s SMART corridors ranges from 60 units per acre to 125 units per acre. The corresponding maximum heights range from 8 to 15 stories. For all the Urban Centers, densities and heights can be examined using the online GIS mapping at https://gisweb.miamidade.gov/landmanagement/
Are these figures frozen or can the county commissioners change these figures without public input/approval?
The figures are not frozen. The Board of County Commissioners has been adjusting them over time.
What percentage of this housing will be affordable housing and where will it be located?
Said information is not required as part of any planning or zoning process, nor does the county mandate affordable housing here.
What is the allotment of parking spaces per unit? Not everyone will choose to ride the system so ample parking is a must.
No direct answer was given. However a little digging found this: “Residential: 1 parking space for 1-bedroom units; 1.5 parking spaces for 2-bedroom units; 1.75 parking spaces for 3 or more bedroom units; and 0.5 parking spaces for elderly housing.”
Some think these numbers could be cut and the size of spaces reduced to discourage autos, thus increasing the need to use the rapid transit system.
Are there plans for the area south of Bird Rd. to Cutler Bay? If so, what are they? Is the density and height the same from Pinecrest south or does this height density shift south of Cutler Bay? If so, why? Aren’t height density and affordable housing county-wide issues? Are incorporated towns excluded from the county plan?
It is the policy of Miami-Dade County, since the 1980’s, to intensify along the existing and proposed rapid transit corridors. Both the county’s comprehensive plan and code call for the establishment of mixed-use, transit-supportive urban centers and corridors along the rapid transit lines. The county’s comprehensive plan calls for housing diversity (Policy LU-1F). The county’s zoning code primarily regulates the unincorporated areas of the county. As for Palmetto Bay, that is an incorporated city with an independent Comprehensive Plan and Zoning.
Many believe our present transit system is inadequate. At peak useage times it is overcrowded and dangerous with people standing in the aisle from front to back. Efforts to increase ridership may be putting the cart before the horse. Some feel it is the county’s main focus to increase ridership in order to receive more federal funding. Shouldn’t ample, safe transportation become reality before a large-scale increase in residential development?
Questions that deal with federal funding should be directed to the Transportation Planning Organization. In order to support, attract and fund mass transit, a critical mass needs to be established. Without adequate density, high volume transit will attract too few trips to offset any real investment to a significant transit facility.
Commissioner Cava said, “the County went through a great deal of effort to get community input on the community urban centers ordinances before they were adopted more than a decade ago. I strongly believe the County owes the
community the same respect when coming up with the plans for the land between the urban centers too. There needs to be a serious commitment from the County Planners to engage our community directly and I’m glad they agreed with me.”