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 News Article:  Miamians Help Draft a Plan


Miamians are flocking to meet with city officials involved in the drafting of Miami 21, the city's new master plan. They want to make sure that their input plays an important role in shaping their town's future growth.

Miami residents want to see results like affordable housing, ''sane,'' appropriate development and a lot more parks and green space from their city's new master plan, Miami 21.

They filled one of the downtown Doubletree Hotel's ballrooms Tuesday evening for the city's first NET Open House discussion meeting.

The NET Open House meetings, like the public workshops being held in each city quadrant, give residents the chance to ask questions and give suggestions to city officials.

Architect Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, of Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co., Miami 21's lead consultants, led the meeting and fielded attendees' questions and concerns.

''It's clear from the kinds of comments recorded at the meetings so far that you'd like us to solve absolutely everything which you think could be made better in the city,'' she said to a laughing crowd.

She displayed a drawing of a city section which included every kind of zone, from natural park land to an urban core, which will be part of the new zoning code. The code is supposed to be based less on what is allowed, and more on what is desired and needed.

The residents' main concerns were the dearth of parkland and affordable housing, the preservation of historic areas, inappropriate high-rise development and public access to Biscayne Bay.

''We're very concerned in my area for other neighborhoods in need of affordable housing,'' said Venetian Causeway area resident Barbara Bisno. ``Anybody who studies the issue knows that the best and most exciting cities have mixed income condos being developed.''

She added, while lots of people nodded in agreement, that many are worried that the ritzy high-rises sprouting along the waterfront will block the people's view of and access to the water.

Plater-Zyberk said that the city had set parameters into the code to ensure appropriate development scale and preservation of view corridors for residents.

Elvis Cruz, of the Morningside Civic Association and Miami Neighborhoods United, described the ''architectural holocaust'' taking place in Edgewater, and asked for some specific height limits in suburban, general urban and central urban areas

In suburban areas, only regular single-family homes will be allowed, Plater-Zyberk said. She added that general urban and central urban areas have limits of three and five stories.

''I was downtown on Flagler and looked toward the bay and noticed that all the trees are gone,'' said Linda Koenigsberg, a local attorney. ``I live in a 1925 house in the Roads, with lush greenery all around. That's what Miami is all about. Miami is not about high-rises and glass facades.''

Coconut Grove resident Joyce Nelson described being able to see her neighborhood from a jet flying into Miami International Airport, recognizing it because of the trees. ''But the rest of the city is all buildings,'' she added. ``And a lot of those buildings are ugly!''

Halfway through the meeting, Mayor Manny Diaz and Commissioner Johnny Winton dropped in, but declined Plater-Zyberk's offer to address the crowd. They stayed in the back of the room.

All questions presented at these meetings, and their answers, will be posted for the public on the Miami 21 website, www.miami21.org. Open House meetings were also held this week for the Overtown and Little Haiti NET areas, and the next meetings, for the Upper Eastside and Wynwood/Edgewater NET areas, will be held on July 25 and 26, respectively.

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