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[Broward] County-growth plan is tall order

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http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/10335290.htm

DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

County-growth plan is tall order

Faced with a growing population and scarce land, Broward is looking to adjust its growth management strategies.

BY SAMUEL P. NITZE

[email protected]

With state approval in hand, Broward County is preparing to overhaul its long-range growth-management plan, a lengthy process that could dramatically affect the rules that govern what gets built and where.

Proposed changes are outlined in a thick report shaped by two hard facts: The county's population is expected to swell by nearly 1 million people by 2030, and its stock of undeveloped land is expected to disappear by 2015.

County planners say smarter land-use policies will help make room for newcomers while guarding against clogged roads, condo-crammed beaches, crowded schools and impossibly high home prices.

For a start, planners say, new residential development must be driven to places that can accommodate more people: along public transportation routes, above commercial development, in place of failing strip malls and shopping centers. Conversely, they say, growth must be controlled in sensitive areas such as the beaches and older neighborhoods of single-family homes.

''That's the central theme of the whole thing,'' said Peter Ross, assistant director of the county's Office of Urban Planning and Redevelopment. ``This additional population is coming, and we have to plan for and manage it or it's going to cause a lot of problems.''

The first major changes to the county's key growth-management document -- its ''Comprehensive Plan'' -- are expected this month, when commissioners are scheduled to vote on new ''transit-oriented'' land-use categories designed to spur redevelopment along major routes, including U.S. 441.

The move would allow cities to create a dense mix of housing and businesses near bus and rail stops. That way, the thinking goes, residents could leave their cars behind and walk or ride to work, limiting congestion.

UPCOMING VOTE

Commissioners also expect to vote on a measure that would change the way traffic fees collected from developers are used, directing money to public transportation projects instead of new roads.

Additional changes will follow as commissioners and planners develop policies to match dozens of goals listed in the growth management report.

They include: promoting clever urban design, ensuring that school capacity is a key factor in development planning, setting rules for redevelopment of beach properties, encouraging water conservation, and providing incentives to increase construction of affordable housing.

The county also hopes to promote building and design standards aimed at creating neighborhoods with distinctive characteristics -- the ''sense of place'' that goes missing in so much modern development.

Last year, commissioners hired architect Anthony Abbate, a professor of architecture and urban design at Florida Atlantic University, to help craft a ''County-wide Community Design Guidebook'' that will serve as a reference for local governments looking to change their codes. The work is almost complete and Abbate is expected to make a presentation early next year.

SEVEN-YEAR PLANS

The state requires its cities and counties to review their comprehensive plans every seven years or so with an eye to making improvements. Broward has been working on its review for more than two years, airing ideas for change at public meetings and workshops.

Early drafts of the report ignited intense opposition from several Broward cities, where local leaders accused the county of mounting a power grab.

Broward is one of the few counties in the state that exercises broad development control over its cities, and local leaders argued that the county should loosen the reins a bit.

Caps on density, restrictions on land-use changes, and endless hearings and reviews only slowed progress and jeopardized important projects, they said.

''We understand our cities and know what they want and need,'' said Lauderdale Lakes Commissioner Hazelle Rogers, president of the Broward League of Cities. ``Who best to determine where we should have housing? Where we should have redevelopment?''

County leaders countered that oversight from a countywide perspective remains as important as ever with the place getting more crowded and infrastructure and resources more strained.

CAPITAL REJECTION

The fight reached Tallahassee earlier this year when the cities pushed unsuccessfully for legislation that would have given them the right to opt out of county land-use restrictions.

Since then, communication has improved and compromise is brewing, officials on both sides agree.

The county is moving to give city governments greater freedom to increase the number of homes allowed per acre in areas eyed for redevelopment, for example, and to speed up consideration of small-scale land-use amendments.

''We are beginning to dispel this myth that we are attempting to play Big Brother with the cities,'' said County Administrator Roger Desjarlais.

STICKING POINT

A county push for more control over beach development remains a sticking point, however.

The courts recently upheld a measure capping density on the beach at 25 units per acre and requiring county hearings and approval for exceptions, Ross said.

And county officials are considering a proposal to require an evaluation of a beach project's potential effect on traffic, school attendance, and water supply for any increase in density, even below the 25-unit cap, he said.

''The whole concept of a countywide land-use plan is that there are certain issues of regional importance,'' Ross said. ``Development on hurricane-prone barrier islands requires regional oversight.''

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Broward really needs some east/west transit. I know plans are in the works, but they just don't seem to come soon enough. Also, I liked how the article mentioned a "sense of place" for neighborhoods. The western cities don't really have a sense of place; they're alljust mass suburbs. You couldn't pay me enough to live all the way out there!

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I can see Ft. Lauderdale and Broward County "bulding up" probably moreso than Miami Dade in the next 20 years; I'm talking population and skyscrapers. There is nothing left out west to build up on, so the only direction to go is UP.

I left Ft. Lauderdale in August and downtown is amassed with numerous building and skyscraper projects with more on the drawing board. I can also see Fort Lauderdale surpassing Orlando and St. Petersburg in population; the skyline of Fort Lauderdale already looks more impressive and awesome than St. Pete or Orlando. Ft. Lauderdale's skyline is pushing Jacksonville. But with the many projects coming up in Jax, Jax will stay ahead.

All of South Florida is "building up." Miami is out of control to say the least. Wouldn't be uncommon to see a 1000 footer on the board for Miami soon. Fort Lauderdale will soon have 600+ footers though they are not yet on the board; I see them coming.

Go South Florida!

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Indeed... All of Broward's 410 square miles of developable area are pretty much at build-out now. There is an initiative that started a few years ago called Eastward Ho!, to encourage infill development in the older eastern cities as a way to accommodate population growth and increase the tax base.

East/west stuff is in the works...

Broward County Transit has a website that discusses its long range transportation plan; it has some pretty ambitious projects proposed, with many connections to Miami-Dade and Palm Beach transit systems... It's at http://www.bctplan.com.

Broward doesn't have a dedicated transit sales tax to work with (yet??) like Miami-Dade's 1/2-cent People's Transportation Plan, so they are looking at BRT and LRT:

Bus rapid transit

  • A continuation of Miami-Dade's proposed North Corridor Metrorail line along NW 27th Avenue, which becomes University Drive upon crossing into Broward. It would continue along University Dr. from the Miami-Dade county line to the Sawgrass Expressway.

  • BRT along Hollywood/Pines Blvd. from Federal Hwy in Hollywood to Dykes Road in Pembroke Pines.

  • from Sawgrass Mills mall in Sunrise to downtown Fort Lauderdale via Oakland Park Blvd

  • Sample Road at University Drive in Coral Springs eastward to Pompano Beach

Light rail transit

  • Light rail along US 441 (State Road 7) from Golden Glades in Dade to West Boca (Sandlefoot)

  • a spur from SR 7 to Sawgrass Mills via I-595.

  • a spur from Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport to Broward Blvd. Connections to Tri-Rail and other lines.

  • a people mover connecting Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport to Port Everglades.

There is also mention of some type of "high-capacity transit" that isn't elaborated upon that would parallel I-75, the Sawgrass Expressway, and the Turnpike. Tri-Rail would also likely run along the FEC railroad tracks (the ones east of I-95).

You'll find all this stuff here: http://www.bctplan.com/pdfs/Major_Capital_Improvements.pdf

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Broward really needs some east/west transit.  I know plans are in the works, but they just don't seem to come soon enough.  Also, I liked how the article mentioned a "sense of place" for neighborhoods.  The western cities don't really have a sense of place; they're alljust mass suburbs.  You couldn't pay me enough to live all the way out there!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

All of South Florida is mass suburban. Some of the western suburbs have much more sense of place that the eastern "suburbs". Older areas like Plantation and some new areas that are farther west like Weston have more of a neighborhood feel than most eastern parts of Fort Lauderdale. There are some areas west that have no soul, but more so in the east. If you want any kind of true ethinic food you need to go to the central part of the county. I lived most of my time in South Florida in East Fort Lauderdale and hate the lack of community due to tourists, retirees, strip malls, ect. Take a drive down Federal Highway.

This is not Mayberry, a six mile commute downtown is nothing. If you don't live downtown or Rio Vista, then you live in mass suburbia

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