The Doral City Council postponed voting on an ordinance that would require any major zoning changes to go through a two-phase workshop process intended to encourage more dialogue and better inform residents how the changes would affect them.
Residents angry about some recent zoning changes petitioned the council to add the extra layer of public input. For example, if a development company wanted to change the density allowed in a project or change its project from an office building to a condominium, those changes would go through two mandatory workshops.
The first workshop would be open to all residents, the developers and city planners but would exclude council members. Residents say it would allow for direct communication with developers. The second workshop would include City Council members, who would approve or deny those changes during a later zoning meeting.
The ordinance was passed on first reading on April 13. City attorney Dan Espino pulled the item from last week’s agenda because two council members were absent, said city manager Edward Rojas.
“Because of the importance of these changes, it was decided that they should be reviewed and voted on by the full City Council and not the quorum of three,” Rojas said. Both Vice Mayor Christi Fraga and Councilman Pete Cabrera were absent.
The ordinance will be up for a vote again on May 11.
“We want to have information flow to the average resident who doesn’t understand how a future project will affect their quality of life,” said Claudia Mariaca, a Doral resident who drafted the ordinance with four other residents in February. They collected 37 signatures out of the required 25 to bring it before the City Council. “Most of the time, changes are quickly passed that end up creating issues with more density, more traffic issues, and more issues with the schools.”
Residents who signed the petition say that rezoning, “specifically increasing the density, has been a major issue in Doral.”
“Then you lose the vision of the city,” said Norberto Spangaro, another resident. “There’s a need for a better dialogue between residents who need to understand the implications of those rezonings in a very open forum. The developers need to hear and receive the input straight from the residents who are directly affected by those changes.”
Last year, the council approved changes to allow a major residential development on 87th Avenue and Northwest 27th Street next to the hotel InterContinental at Doral Miami — an area surrounded by warehouses and truck routes. Originally, according to the city’s master plan, that land was zoned as industrial. The council changed the zoning to community mixed use. Those condos are currently under construction.
“When we allow these changes to happen we are setting precedent,” Mariaca said.
An upcoming project that could be subject to the workshop ordinance would be property at Northwest 41st Street and 94th Avenue. Instead of building 12 homes, the developer is requesting to build more than 200 residences with a mixed-use area on seven acres of land. Currently, a mixed-use project would require a minimum of 15 acres.
That proposal will be up for first reading during the May 18 zoning meeting.