Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The devil is always in the details of any Palmetto Bay legislative effort. Agenda item 9H for consideration this Monday, May 7– a moratorium may soon be imposed for the residential areas. This may have a profound impact on both your property rights and tax dollars. A detailed must read.

You always have to watch the village agenda to find things that may affect you.  There is one significant item of profound impact on Palmetto Bay in property rights and your tax dollars, short term, not advertised in the newspaper, but you can find on the agenda current posted online, agenda item 9H.  CLICK HERE to check out the upcoming Agenda items for the Monday, May 7, 2012, regular village council meeting.  The council is about to embark on a major rewrite on the Palmetto bay Code, so my first comment is that this takes time to do this properly.  The current Palmetto Bay code was not finally enacted until 2009 – and was voted on and approved by the current mayor, Vice Mayor and one current sitting member of the village Council.  This was a multi-year effort.  Codes are not something that can and most certainly should not be put together in a rushed manner, especially where there is the potential for severe financial impact as well as profound difficulties to area residents.   What is the emergency and what is the need to impose a moratorium?  Any non-residential use in a resident area requires a zoning process and a public hearing where concerns can be addressed? 

It is unfortunate.  I am not aware of any pending non-residential projects going on within the Village, but this moratorium will have a profound impact upon the residential property owners of Palmetto Bay, its effect will be much longer than the just the stated moratorium period and here is why:  No one is going to even start talking with their architects and drawing plans until after the code changes are in place.  It takes months for drawings to be readied for submission to the Building Department.  That means that people will be holding off and starting from scratch when the moratorium if finally lifted. 

The agenda contains both good items, such as the Village Council recognizing the members of the building and permitting committee.  This is good news as it shows some movement by this council to implement some of the well-thought changes to the permitting procedure, including the permit fee schedule, but in the Kafkaesque world of this Palmetto Bay council, there seems to always be sobering bad news in the details to follow the good.  The bad news is that for the next several months you may not be able to use the services of the permitting department at all. 

What? Yes, anyone who may want or need to add on to their house, or buy a home, subject to making modifications, will not be able to do so for the foreseeable future.    That could hurt home sales as well as making homes available for the arrival of that new child or an elderly parent moving in. 

Another issue – will any seller or buyers be able to open a permit to close out an expired open permit required to sell a house?  This could impact sellers and buyers as well as the local real estate agents.  That needs to be considered and an appropriate exemption or allowance needs to be put in place.

This proposed halt to residential construction is for time to create, legislate and implement a yet to be defined Neighborhood Preservation and Compatibility modification to Palmetto Bay’s existing code (Which was, by the way, completed in 2009, and approved by three of the five current members of the Palmetto Bay council).  There are no stated details for this Neighborhood Preservation and Compatibility available to the public (Click the link to view the documents, Agenda item 9H, beginning page 125 and running through to page 130), yet this council appears ready to lose up to $57,000.00 per month in revenues caused by the enactment of the Zoning In Progress (ZIP) resolution and moratorium. This is most troubling as The Permitting department is self-sustaining, meaning that permit and other fees cover the costs, not general revenue tax dollars, but the expected loss of revenues means that ongoing permit fees will not be generated to cover the expenses that will continue for the department.  Any overall shortfall in revenue against the expenses will require that the taxpayers, meaning you and me, will have to cover those expenses through our general revenue tax dollars. 

Please note that as currently proposed, the ZIP would not apply to the commercial or mixed use districts (with the exception of the Live Work Residential area of the FT&I District) – only the residential areas are being placed on hold for this undisclosed legislative change.

The proposed resolution seeks to implement a moratorium projected to last up to 4 months in order to implement the neighborhood preservation and compatibility modifications that are currently undisclosed.  The moratorium could last less time, possibly as little as 60 days if the code is rewritten with blazing speed or it could last up to a year (without the moratorium itself being considered a “taking” under the Bert J Harris).

Should this resolution pass in its present form, there will be a period of time where no building permits, certificates of use, development orders will be issued except for emergency repairs.  If and once the moratorium passes no building permits, certificates of use, development orders will be issued if the issuance would result in the nonconforming or unlawful use of the subject property should the proposed changes be enacted by the Village Council. 

The Building Official will be able to issue permits for fences, interior repairs or remodeling, general repairs or similar matters where he determines that such permits will not affect outcome of the planned study.


  1. AnonymousMay 02, 2012

    Par for the course. The Three Amigos are hell bent on destroying this city through over regulation. Palmetto Bay should be known as the “Village of Vindictiveness”

  2. AnonymousMay 04, 2012

    No property owner is safe while the Palmetto Bay council is in session.