Please place on the June 5, 2019 Commission Agenda, a referral to the Land Use and Development Committee (LUDC) to discuss a potential ballot question for the November 5, 2019 ballot regarding non-conforming FAR within existing, historic buildings.
Under the current regulations of the city code, when an existing building exceeds the current maximum allowable floor area ratio (FAR), the excess FAR is considered legal non-conforming, and no additional FAR may be added. Specifically, under Chapter 118, Article IX of the Land Development Regulations (LDRs) of the City Code, governing nonconformances, a nonconforming building or use cannot be expanded.
There are limited instances in which the introduction, or in some cases the re-introduction, of non-conforming FAR makes sense from an historic preservation, land use planning and overall policy standpoint. Some of these limited examples include:
- New floor area within volumetric buildings such as historic theatres. In this regard, there are historic theatres in the City that are in need of adaptive re-purposing, such as a conversion to retail or food & dining establishments. However, if the building is legal non-conforming as to maximum FAR, there is no opportunity under the code to add additional floor plates within the structure, even though they will not be visible.
• Re-introducing original, historic floors to buildings where the floors may have been removed in years past. In this regard, if a hotel building had floors removed to create volumetric space, and they seek to re-introduce those floors, this would not be possible under the regulations of the code if the building or building site is legal non-conforming as to maximum FAR.
In order to amend the code to allow for these types of limited circumstances in which non-conforming FAR can either be introduced, or re-introduced, an amendment to Chapter 118, Article IX of the LDRs would be required. Pursuant to City Charter Section 1.03(c), such amendment would require the approval of the City’s voters:
The floor area ratio of any property or street end within the City of Miami Beach shall not be increased by zoning, transfer, or any other means from its current zoned floor area ratio, unless any such increase in zoned floor area ratio for any such property shall first be approved by a vote of the electors of the City of Miami Beach.
This discussion pertains to a potential ballot question for an amendment that would allow a property to add nonconforming FAR, which would result in an increase in zoned FAR “by zoning, transfer, or any other means” pursuant to City Charter Section 1.03(c). It is recommended that the item be discussed by the Land Use and Development Committee, prior to consideration of the ballot question by the full City Commission. If this discussion is referred to the Land Use and Development Committee, the City Attorney’s Office will draft a ballot question for discussion at the Land Use Committee.
For additional information, please contact my office at extension 26437.