I received this from Charles Corda. Makes a lot of sense:
Given the development pressure being put on the Grove these days it seems to me if we are to preserve any semblance of the unique character and sense of place that once existed here, it may be time to establish an "Urban Design Review Board" for the commercial area of Coconut Grove.
I believe it is in the interest of both the residents and business owners to foster the preservation and expansion of the architectural and urban design qualities that make this place unique. Each and every project whether it be a new building or the placement of street furniture and signage (see new LED signage in the Grapevine) should require a mandatory review to insure that the "ambiance" of Coconut Grove is enhanced rather than detracted from by inappropriate architectural intrusions.
Right now this task is essentially assigned to the City Planning and Zoning Department to review a project's conformance to the Miami 21 Zoning Code. I believe a dedicated "Coconut Grove Review Board" should would do a far better job of ensuring the appropriate development of the Grove than the highly politicized and largely ineffectual Planning and Zoning Department. A Local Review Board would return some semblance of local control to Coconut Grove. Decisions made that effect Coconut Grove should not be made on a city wide basis any longer.
Perhaps this is something that the Village Council can take up at the next meeting. I would suggest creating a "Review Board" along the lines of the Coral Gables Architectural Review Board. Said Board should be composed of perhaps seven Grove professionals from the Architectural, Planning, Landscape Design, Real Estate and Development community and should have the power vested in it to approve or reject proposed projects and designs for the Grove. In order to lessen political pressure on the suggested Board the members of the "Review Board" should be selected by election, similar to the Village Council, rather then by political appointment.
It is my belief given recent events that unless such a Review Board is created we will lose all that makes the Grove unique and desirable as a place to live, work and visit.
I realize that certain politicians may oppose the creation of such a board but that should not be a reason to forgo the concept. In point of fact it should be all the more reason to do so. I am also under the belief that the community of Coconut Grove would see the value in creating such a Board and would be supportive of the concept.
I personally am not someone who prefers added layers of bureaucracy but I do not think we have a choice any longer. Local empowerment will be essential to the survival of the Grove as a unique and special place.
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