Recommended Changes to NCDs Now in City Hands
Over the past few months the Grove 2030 Governance Working Group, in collaboration with the Coconut Grove Village Council and other community organizations, has prepared a number of recommended changes to the Grove’s zoning laws. The so-called Neighborhood Conservation District 2 & 3 overlays (or NCDs), created about a decade ago, allow city planners to tailor growth and development regulations to our community with its unique needs and challenges. The intent of the laws, enshrined in City code, is clear: “To establish a protective series of legislative elements to preserve the historic, heavily landscaped character of Coconut Grove’s residential areas; enhance and protect Coconut Grove’s natural features such as the tree canopy and green space; and protect the architectural variety within the unique single family neighborhood that comprises Coconut Grove. The community of Coconut Grove predates the City of Miami, and is known for its character, derived from lush landscaping, and naturally occurring vegetation and trees, and its unique property sizes and shapes; bay views geologic features; proximity to Biscayne Bay; public open space; recreational opportunities; commercial services; and a special character imparted by its tropical vegetation and historic structures.”
But the laws, according to many residents we spoke with, are not working. The very things which make the Grove unique, and which the NCDs were designed to protect – tree canopy, architectural variety, historic structures and more – are at grave risk of disappearing. Our recommendations help address some of these challenges. Among them are:
· Restrictions on the size of new homes being built within single-family districts.
· Rules to promote tree canopy, including protection for so-called “heritage” trees greater than 24 inches in diameter.
· Provisions for a City review of historic significance for all structures older than 50 years when a demolition permit is requested.
· An increase in the green space and canopy requirements within single-family building sites.
· An exemption from City’s provisions that allow developers to circumvent zoning laws on large-scale development sites.
In many ways, we’ve merely proposed stronger, clearer language. And apart from the changes to the NCDs, we are recommending a series of additional measures – such as creation of a Coconut Grove Design Review Board -- to further protect the Grove’s unique character. To be clear, these are merely our recommendations; we surely recognize that not everyone will agree with them. They now rest in the hands of both District 2 Commissioner Ken Russell and with City of Miami Planning Director Francisco Garcia who are overseeing the project to revamp our NCDs. They need your input.
You can view all of our proposed changes by visiting our website (grove2030.org). Please keep in mind that only through strong and consistent community support will our City leaders provide the legislative protections that Coconut Grove needs and deserves.
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