Appeal to Miami City Commission by Morningside Civic Assn, et al.
March 10, 2005
[Start with Control Growth slide onscreen.]
Hello, my name is Elvis Cruz, 631 NE 57 Street Miami 33137
***Gentlemen, FAR is a maximum, not an entitlement. Proposed buildings must also comply with section 1305 of the zoning code.
***Here is the Design Review Criteria set forth in section 1305: Respond to the physical contextual environment taking into consideration urban form.
***Respond to the neighborhood context. Create a transition in bulk and scale.
The proposed buildings fail to meet these criteria from three perspectives:
***First: the width of the street. Biscayne Boulevard is only 80-100 feet wide at this point, relatively narrow for a commercial street.
***This is because Biscayne was never designed to be a commercial street, but was pieced together in the late 1920’s by connecting a series of streets through residential, single family neighborhoods.
***This is why Biscayne curves and dog-legs. ***Accordingly, the lots along Biscayne were originally platted for single family homes, ***and are therefore very shallow. ***This is why there are still 15 of the original single family homes still standing on Biscayne Boulevard above 36 Street, and why the lots in question are only 127 to as little as 100 feet deep.
What is proper scale for a 100 foot-wide commercial street like Biscayne? ***Here is the Miami-Dade County Planning and Zoning Dept’s ***Urban Design Manual. ***On page 14 it shows the preferred scale ***as having 3 story buildings. I quote: ***“In this preferred example, the ratio is slightly less than 1 to 3. Human scale is achieved by a tight section, including landscape, three-story buildings, and an arcade and awnings which result in a comfortable space.”
*** Here are some illustrations from the same manual. They show two and three story *** buildings as examples of proper scale on a commercial corridor.
***The second perspective is the physical contextual environment taking into consideration the urban form of Biscayne Boulevard, which is: *** from 48 Street, where the wide median ends, northward to the city limits at 87 Street, is a distance of 2.48 miles;*** yet there are only 14 buildings higher than 2 stories,*** and over 95% of the properties are ***2 stories or less. There are only 2 buildings in that ***2.48 mile stretch that are as tall as those proposed. One of them is ***the Immigration building at 79 street, a major intersection where a larger building is properly located ***the other, at 5701, was built illegally in 1973 in that it did not have enough land area, which was discovered after it was built, and so ***the developer had to buy the house behind it in order to receive a certificate of occupancy. Therefore, this building is not a valid example of existing scale, but it does show what will result if these buildings are allowed. The white wall on the right is 95 feet high, similar to the heights proposed. Look at how out of scale the building is to the house behind it. Additionally, there is a wide parking lot between the building and that house. The proposed projects would have a rear setback as small as 5 feet.
***Here is the City of Miami planning department’s publication for the Biscayne Boulevard Charrette. ***Commissioner Winton outlined the city’s goals: ***“The plan will establish standards that emphasize a human scaled, pedestrian friendly Boulevard that promotes compatible development to respond to the context of the Boulevard and its immediate surrounding neighborhoods.”
*** This publication has 7 photographs and drawings of examples of good urban design and proper human scale for Biscayne Boulevard. All 7 exhibits depict 2 and 3 story buildings as examples of good design and proper scale. III
***And here is the consultant’s initial recommendation from that charrette: a height limit of 3 stories or less at this location.
***Also, 1305 speaks of master plans: ***Special consideration shall also be given to redevelopment activity… where a plan is in place… a “plan” shall mean a master plan…
***Here is the City of Miami Planning Department’s Upper Eastside Master Plan, ***a 3 year effort begun on March 28, 1996, and which ***recommends a height limit of only 30 feet on parts of Biscayne.
***The third perspective deals with responding to the neighborhood context: The neighborhood abutting the proposed sites, is the ***Morningside Historic District, Miami’s first historic district since December 20th, 1984, is zoned R-1, has been there for over 80 years and is a ***thriving, integral part of Miami’s history and economy.
***Morningside was also declared a National Historic District on October 2, 1992.
***Here are scale drawings of the buildings with the adjacent single story, single family homes. ***You can see the design overwhelms the single story houses next to them. *** Biscayne would become a 100 foot concrete canyon. Notice the existing 2 story buildings at right of center. ***Here you see the incompatibility with the neighborhood context, ***how they would be out of scale and cast shadows on the neighborhood.
***Also, as proven by Florida case law, 35 feet is an accepted proper scale for buildings adjacent to single family homes. From the Fifth DCA, Battaglia Properties vs Florida Land and Water Adjudicatory Commission, ***“The 35-foot height requirement appears to be reasonably related to the stated policies of both Orange County and Maitland, to preserve the residential nature of the area.”
Lastly, this continuing pattern of high-rise development along Biscayne Boulevard will have an***adverse effect on the area. The Boulevard is already beyond capacity. ***Here is the Florida DOT’s map showing the Biscayne corridor. The red color coding you see means it*** has a grade of F, just like on a school report card.
***In summary, please note that none of these arguments are our opinions. They are objective, impartial standards set by neutral third parties and governmental entities, including the City of Miami. This substantial, competent evidence shows 35 feet to be the proper scale for buildings at this location.
***The buildings do not even comply with the amended SD-9, which set a height limit of 85 or 95 feet with a 45 degree sloping setback above 25 feet. While these applicants may argue that they should be grandfathered from the SD-9 amendments, they are not grandfathered from complying with 1305. All the previous examples of 35 feet as proper scale can be applied as an interpretation of 1305, because ***FAR is a maximum, not an entitlement.
***Gentlemen, today is the 20th time that the Upper East Side neighbors have come to city hall to fight against high rises. At this time I ask those in support of our appeal to please stand and be recognized. Thank you.
This concludes my presentation, we now have a different speaker for whom I will display a few pictures.
[Second Speaker,give your name and address ]
While we sincerely believe that 35 feet is the appropriate scale for Biscayne, ***we remember that when the 51st and 52nd street buildings came before you they were made to comply with the amended SD-9.
Should you decide to do the same in this case, there are two important points we’d like you to consider:
***First: please specify that the 45 degree angle building height limit shall begin from the rear setback points of the SD-9 lots, and not from any R-1 lot, as is stated in the language of SD-9.
***Second: Throughout the charrette and the subsequent SD-9 amendment process, we were told that building height limits were just that, the height of the building. For example, SD-9 says a mixed use building can have a ***“maximum building height of 8 stories or 95 feet”, which makes sense because buildings usually have a floor interval of 10 feet, which would make 80 feet, and still allow 15 feet for a slightly higher first floor and for rooftop utilities, stair tower, elevator over-run, parapet walls, etc. But now we are told that the 95 is only for the height of the roof above an inhabited floor, with no apparent height limit for utilities above that. ***The language of SD-9 says “building height maximum”. It does not say ‘roof height maximum’. Please do not allow any part of any SD-9 building to exceed that height.