HALLANDALE BEACH - By Mayor Joy Cooper - When it comes to future growth, everyone needs to be up front - and very supportive - So many residents have come to me to find out about the future developments in Hallandale Beach that have been covered in the press. When I explain the history that brought us to this time in our City, they tell me I should write about it. Before I go into the history, I want to make it clear that the Diplomat Golf Course passed on a 4-1 with Commissioner Lazarow, voting no. The Oasis was passed 5-0 even though the press reported comments made by one commissioner before that he was not going to support it, but without additional access roads. It is a shame and sham that some commissioners are not disclosing their votes and worse not being upfront about them.
I also need to let our readers know that residents made it loud and clear that they support the addition of the Hibiscus Road to run East/West paralleling Hallandale Beach and the others to help traffic, only Commissioner Sanders, Vice Mayor Julian and I supported moving forward. We need all of our residents to contact the commissioners and tell them to vote in favor of the East/West Hibiscus and other roads to reduce traffic. Hibiscus alone will improve congestion on HBB by 20 -25%. Tell them stop just talking about traffic and do something about it.
Over the past years, we have been proactivity addressing growth management in our City. I always like to point out that it is called growth management because growth will naturally occur, it is how it is planned and managed, that counts.
The first step came with our Master Plan, this plan was a long process. We hired a consulting firm to work with our residents and commission on a grass roots level to create a blue print for the future. During the process, we held many forums, workshops and focus groups where input was gathered. These groups included both our residents and businesses. Through this plan, we looked at where redevelopment should be taking place and what it may look like.
At that time, since we were built out, we focused on pushing towards the corridors and west. We moved forward with our Regional Activity Center that is located along Federal, Dixie and Pembroke. We worked with Broward County to establish the RAC, we then moved forward with Form Base Codes.
These codes provide height limits, encourages livable, walkable communities, mixed uses where commercial and residential are built on one site, maintain single family areas and provide a model design for building by transitioning height to the streets.
Within the RAC, heights are limited in various zones up to 15 stories. There are bonus height increases for adding residential on 3 acres or more on properties and those that are greater than 5 acres are granted the ability to negotiated redevelopments. It must be noted that the commercial use generates more traffic than residential. These parameters were set to promote the combinations of parcels and limit height. These limitations were stressed by our residents and we listened.
The question then becomes: Why are we seeing the rush on current development? In order to change the rules, we are required to allow by law property owners to apply to build under the current codes. If we do not, we can be sued under the Burt Harris Act which protects a property owner's rights from down zoning.
This right is a window of opportunity and is not permanent. It is a use it or lose it proposition. In addition, we are limited by the amount of residential flex and reserve units to allocate for redevelopment. These units allow us to add living into commercial areas. Thus, we are seeing the owners come forward before the door of opportunity closes.
We have also not adopted Form Base Codes on the entire Boulevard. Yet, I say yet, because I did make the request of staff, but due to the extensive work needed in the RAC and possible lawsuits, there has not been action taken. The current laws on East Hallandale Beach Boulevard provide for the ability to build commercial up to 350 feet. It should be noted, due to the size of both the Oasis and the Chateau properties located in Southeast Hallandale Beach, which are both over 5, they would still be negotiated development under Form Based Codes.
Redevelopments is a very complex process. Quite often, it is not a simple yes or no. like some residents would like. In our City, we continue to make sure that developers pay their share for mitigating and impacts from their developments. As I stated earlier, we are also looking at proactive ways to address traffic.
There have been discussions about modeling this development plan out on 3D models. That is not a bad thing, but it can be very misleading. We all know from history that just because approvals are made, it does not mean that a building will get built. We saw this in the real estate crash in 2006.
There would also be an assumption that every building would be torn down and replaced, this also is not a true reality. Many developers come in with renderings depicting the size and mass adjacent to the surrounding areas. It may be a fun tool like the SIM City Video game, but it also needs to be fully disclosed as a tool to show a what we have and what if? The "if" can be the variable part.
We do need to make sure that our impacts are calculated at the maximum, so our current owners are not paying for someone else’s impacts. I asked that a full evaluation be expedited, since the state statutes have been recently drafted with more stringent rules on how we can collect for impacts. All developers now must have a tangible nexus to the project. For the time being, we will still be asking for what the market can bear on these impacts and to date, approvals have been without litigation.
I want to wish everyone a blessed Memorial Day. My prayers go out to all of our fallen soldiers and their loved ones. Let us all take time to remember them and most importantly, our soldiers that are fighting the war on terror. Let them come home safe and sound to their loved ones.
I welcome the opportunity to come out and speak on these issues with your condo or group. As always, please feel free to contact me any time with your questions/concerns and ideas on how to make our City a better place at my office: (954) 457-1318. On my cell/text at: (954) 632-5700. Or visit my web-site at: www.mayorjoycooper.com. If you are heading out of town and want to stay connected to our City issues, you can sign up for my weekly update.