The City of Doral may approve a six-month pause on new development applications as it braces for future high density projects under the state’s Live Local Act.
The Doral City Council is scheduled to vote on the development moratorium on Aug. 23. The council has already unanimously approved the proposed six-month moratorium on first reading on July 26.
If approved, the moratorium will pause processing and acceptance of development permits and orders in Doral for half a year. During that period, city officials will review and enact possible changes to the city’s comprehensive plan and zoning regulations, according to a memo from Doral’s city attorney Valerie Vicente.
“If after the six months the city requires additional time, the city council can evaluate whether an extension of the moratorium is necessary,” wrote Vicente, a Planation-based attorney affiliated with the law firm of Nabors Giblin & Nickerson, P.A.
Enacted in July 1, the Live Local Act enables developers to build to the highest density a municipality allows on land zoned industrial, commercial, or mixed-use if 40% of its units are designated for affordable housing. The act defines affordable housing as apartments that are reserved for, and not cost burdensome to, households that make below 120% of an area’s median household income (AMI). Under HUD guidelines, a household of one that earns $86,760 a year is in the 120% AMI category. The law also bans elected boards from voting on such applications.
The purpose of the Live Local Act is to encourage developers to build attainable housing that the workforce – including teachers, nurses, police, and firefighters – can have a place they can afford to live. However, Doral officials said the Florida law has removed the home rule sovereignty of cities and counties to determine their own zoning. Residents and officials are worried that Doral’s large amount of industrial and commercially zoned land could pave the way for over-development in an area already congested with traffic.
“At the time of the city’s incorporation in 2003, the city’s population was approximately 26,438 and in just 20 years, it has grown exponentially, and is now home to approximately 86,576 residents,” Vicente wrote.
Other possible changes suggested during the meeting include buffers for residential zoned areas, a requirement that residents be notified of pending Live Local Act projects, and enforcement provisions to ensure that projects set aside affordable units for the next 30 years as required by the state law.
Doral isn’t the first city to consider action on the Live Local Act. Weston is moving forward with legislation that will require that Live Local Act applications be discussed at a public hearing prior to approval.