Biscayne Park commissioners have given final approval to new rules requiring residents to get a variance from the city to keep boats or recreational vehicles in front yards.
Village commissioners passed the rules by a vote of 3-2 at their meeting on July 9. Vice Mayor Bob Anderson and commissioners Roxanna Ross and Barbara Watts voted for the changes, while Commissioner Bryan Cooper and Mayor Noah Jacobs dissented.
“This is horrible,” Jacobs said. “There are definite divides within this community, and there are different interests in the village that are being trampled on with this ordinance. This ordinance will limit our diversity.”
But Anderson showed his colleagues pictures of front yards full of boats and cars, which he said make the village look unattractive. Not everyone was convinced, however. About 50 village residents attended the meeting , most of them opposed the new rules.
“This ordinance is overkill for boats and watercraft. It’s terrible, the way it’s written. You are going way overboard. We don’t have a problem with boats and trucks that you can’t fix,” said 25-year village resident Steve Bernard, adding that stronger code enforcement would be the answer.
Others complained that the new rules would require costly changes for homeowners and interfered with their property rights.
“If I own a boat, I’ll do what I want with it. This is not how I want to live or where I want to live,” said 30-year village resident Jerry Caracappa.
The new rules take effect immediately
Depending on the circumstance, a variance application could cost $150 plus an additional $100 for advertising. However, the new rules waive the fees for homeowners who apply in the first year.
Also at the commission meeting:
• Village Manager Ana Garcia resigned from her position to become the city manager of North Miami Beach. Her last day with Biscayne Park will be Aug. 20. “It has been a privilege to have been able to serve the people of Biscayne Park,” Garcia said.
• Garcia talked about the possibility of annexing neighboring land to increase the village’s tax income. According to her report, the village’s current tax rate is the highest in Miami-Dade County at $9.50 per $1,000 in taxable real estate, the state limit is $10. Furthermore, the city now has only low-density residential property. As a result, there is no area to draw additional revenues from.
Garcia proposed an annexation area of 46.55 acres, which contains two multi-family complexes (one under construction) which would total about 420 units, plus commercial and industrial property. Commissioners voted to schedule a public workshop where further details of annexation would be discussed.