Palmetto Bay gave final approval on Monday to a four-month moratorium on building permits for nonresidential uses in residential neighborhoods so that the village can work on revising its rules to preserve neighborhoods.
The Village Council voted 3-2 in support of council member Joan Lindsay’s proposal for the freeze. Lindsay explained that the moratorium, which would not affect residential properties an acre or smaller, nor the commercial or mixed-use districts, was necessary while the revisions are developed to allow staff to work on this issue without distraction. She promised at the meeting that the moratorium would not extend beyond four months and that the language would be written within that time frame. Previous moratoriums in Palmetto Bay’s history have been extended.
“It is my goal to have this done,” Lindsay said. “I am working diligently with our village attorney, and it is our goal to get this done. So when you go on your summer vacations, I will stay in town and do the work that needs to be done so I don’t have to come back and ask for an extension. That’s my promise to you.”
Currently, the village’s land development code offers zoning guidelines for building commercial establishments in commercial areas and for residential properties in residential areas. But, unlike the county’s more complete guidelines, which take into account noise and dust disturbances from construction, odor, lighting and the placement of landscaping buffers, Palmetto Bay’s code isn’t quite so complete, she said.
“If you want to build a nonresidential use in a residential area, you should know what you have to do by going to the code,” Lindsay said. Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Vice Mayor Brian Pariser voted with her, and residents in the packed council chamber applauded her efforts.
“I think this is much ado about nothing,” said resident Eric Tullberg. “Put your effort into what you think should be in the final rule. In four months you can’t do anything anyway.”
Bev Gerald, who has also opposed Palmer Trinity School’s expansion plans, also applauded the majority vote. “I support the moratorium and want to thank the members of the council who stand up for the rights of our citizens even if it costs us money. This is not anti-church or anti-school, this is about getting our house in order.”
Stanczyk said the resolution was about making the playing field equitable and clear for both resident and developers.
However, the mood in the room, stoked by the village’s recent defeat in its lengthy and costly six-figure legal fight with Palmer Trinity, in which the Third District Court pronounced the village “willfully disobedient” and “intransigent,” also turned on the majority. Several residents see the moratorium as little more than a way to pass by ordinances what the courts have disallowed, a viewpoint Lindsay and Stanczyk vehemently deny. Council members Pat Fiore and Howard Tendrich both argued that the language could, and should, be written without asking for a divisive moratorium.
“Why create problems where there are none?” Fiore added.
Lindsay countered that the moratorium is required to allow staff undivided attention on crafting the language. However, applications for developments have not been pouring into the village’s in-basket at this time or since the moratorium idea was first proposed at an April public meeting.