South Miami

South Miami to require developers to pay fees to improve parks

Developers who build in South Miami will have to pay impact fees to improve the city’s park system, city commissioners have decided.

“If we add residents we need to add green space,” Mayor Philip Stoddard said. “How do you pay for that? One of the ways is by having new development pay their share. If a new development were to have 250 residents, they would essentially buy us an acre of green space, which will be required.”

Commissioners gave final approval to the new fees on Tuesday. The vote was 4-1, with Commissioner Gabriel Edmond dissenting.

Back in April, the commission had passed a resolution allowing for City Manager Steven Alexander to enter into an agreement for a transportation concurrency review and impact fee study, not to exceed $70,000 in cost, with TischlerBise Inc.

During the study, the fiscal, economic and planning consultants looked at transportation, parks and recreation, and public safety for fee assessment.

“My job is to try and maximize the residents dollars,” Alexander said. “That means to look at every avenue for bringing money in that would be paid by somebody else, in this case. The current residents have been paying for the parks all along. It’s appropriate for new folks, as they move on, to try and catch up a little bit.”

South Miami requested the study to assess if it was possible to shift the cost of infrastructure from new development from existing residents to the developer.

The average proposed fee for a single unit with 2.8 residents will be $2,865 when approved. Impact fees will be paid to the city by the developer before they are issued a building permit. Single-unit developments with at least four bedrooms and 3.45 residents would pay a proposed impact fee of $3,519.

“We can wait for the taxes, but the taxes have to pay for everything else … police, code, and garbage,” Mayor Stoddard said. “So the idea is to have them pay in a lump sum for the amount of parks and green space that we are going to have to acquire on their behalf.”

The city plans to use the impact fees to develop and improve parkland.

South Miami currently has 2.92 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents. The estimated cost to develop an acre of parkland in the city is $175,000. The city currently now has 34.94 acres of developed parkland and 10 acres of undeveloped parkland. In 2013 South Miami had a population of 11,979, according to the study.

Stoddard says one way the city can increase green space is by adding “pocket parks.”

“One of the things we do is acquire pocket parks,” Stoddard said. “We go find a large acre or half acre lot that is in a neighborhood that doesn’t have any parks. We buy it and make it into a park. ...

“Another opportunity we have is the Florida East Coast Railway right of way, or the Ludlam Trail,” Stoddard sadded. “It’s not a trail … it’s just a space. We would love to be able to acquire that for a linear park, which would allow kids to bike to school. We definitely have our eye on that as something we would like to be able to buy.”

South Miami is expected to have an increase of 481 residents between 2013 and 2018. Alexander said the city is trying to put a parks plan in next year’s city budget.

“The wish list is very long, obviously,” Alexander said. “It’s a question of how much we can budget.”