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 News Article: Miami 21 Zoning Code Gets First Green Light

BY: Tania Valdemoro

Miami is moving closer to adopting a new zoning code that regulates how the city will look as it grows and changes over time.

Miami 21, an ambitious plan created to manage Miami's growth, passed its first test Wednesday when a key city board approved a new zoning code for Miami's eastern neighborhoods.

"Miami 21 needs to move forward because Miami needs something like this. There are things that need to be fixed," said Donna Milo, a member of the Planning Advisory Board.

Since 2005, Mayor Manny Diaz led the creation of Miami 21, a series of comprehensive plans that cover transportation, parks, public spaces and economic development. The linchpin is a new zoning code that defines how buildings should be shaped to encourage pedestrian-friendly streets and where high density development should be placed.

After hearing a wide range of concerns from residents, developers and architects, board members told city staff and lead consultants Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. they wanted to:
** Strengthen Miami 21's current rules about public notice, setbacks and waterfront development.
** Ensure an affordable housing trust fund received more contributions from developers who wanted to build taller buildings.

Although the Planning Advisory Board gave Miami 21 the green light, the vote is nonbinding; the City Commission has the final say when it votes June 28.

Wednesday's approval also triggers a six-month hold on development approvals for a large swath of Miami. If commissioners ultimately pass Miami 21, planners will ask developers to revise projects submitted between April 18 and June 28 that don't comply with the new zoning code. If the commission rejects Miami 21 or waits more than six months to vote on the plan, the hold will expire and developers can continue to build under current rules.

Areas affected would include downtown, Wynwood, Edgewater, Overtown, the Design District, Little Haiti, and the Upper Eastside. Planners have not begun creating a new zoning code for the rest of the city, said Planning Director Ana Gelabert-Sanchez.

An approval of the Miami 21 plan means Miami would be the first major city in the United States that would have a blueprint for the shapes of buildings going up in certain neighborhoods.

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