Item Coversheet

Ordinances - R5  M




COMMISSION MEMORANDUM

TO:Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Commission 
FROM:Alina T. Hudak, City Manager 
DATE:October  13, 2021
 

First Reading

SUBJECT:

LANDSCAPE NEIGHBORHOOD OVERLAYS

1. LDR OVERLAY VERSION:

AN ORDINANCE OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA, AMENDING THE CODE OF THE CITY OF MIAMI BEACH, SUBPART B, ENTITLED "LAND DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS," BY AMENDING CHAPTER 126, ENTITLED "LANDSCAPE REQUIREMENTS," BY CREATING SECTION 126-8, ENTITLED "LANDSCAPE NEIGHBORHOOD OVERLAYS," TO ESTABLISH PROVISIONS FOR LANDSCAPE NEIGHBORHOOD OVERLAYS WITHIN EXISTING NEIGHBORHOODS, AND CREATE THE LA GORCE ISLAND LANDSCAPE NEIGHBORHOOD OVERLAY; AND PROVIDING FOR REPEALER, CODIFICATION, SEVERABILITY, AND AN EFFECTIVE DATE. 

 

2. RESOLUTION VERSION:

AN ORDINANCE OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COMMISSION THE CITY OF MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA, AMENDING THE CODE OF THE CITY OF MIAMI BEACH, SUBPART B, ENTITLED "LAND DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS," BY AMENDING CHAPTER 126, ENTITLED "LANDSCAPE REQUIREMENTS," BY CREATING SECTION 126-8, ENTITLED "LANDSCAPE NEIGHBORHOOD OVERLAYS," TO ESTABLISH PROVISIONS FOR LANDSCAPE NEIGHBORHOOD OVERLAYS WITHIN EXISTING NEIGHBORHOODS; AND PROVIDING FOR REPEALER, CODIFICATION, SEVERABILITY, AND AN EFFECTIVE DATE. 


RECOMMENDATION

The Administration recommends that the City Commission approve the subject Ordinance at First Reading and schedule a Second Reading / Public Hearing for December 8, 2021.

BACKGROUND/HISTORY

HISTORY
On March 17, 2021, at the request of Commissioner Steven Meiner, the City Commission referred a proposed Ordinance pertaining to Chapter 126 of the Land Development Regulations of the City Code to the Land Use and Sustainability Committee (C4 AK). At the April 29, 2021 Land Use and Sustainability Committee (LUSC) meeting, the item was deferred to the May 26, 2021 LUSC meeting with no discussion. On May 26, 2021 the item was deferred to the June 21, 2021 LUSC meeting, without discussion.

On June 21, 2021, the LUSC discussed the proposed amendment, as well as the proposal within the context of La Gorce Island. The LUSC continued the item to the July 12, 2021 meeting of the LUSC, with direction to staff to prepare an option for a more tailored approach to La Gorce Island that balances the goals of the Urban Forestry Master Plan (UFMP) with the unique character and context of the neighborhood. The LUSC also directed staff to study a method for providing a similar, tailored approach to individual neighborhoods citywide.

On July 12, 2021, the Administration provided an overlay version of the Ordinance, in accordance with the previous direction of the LUSC. The LUSC recommended that the City Commission consider both the sponsor (Appendix F) version of the proposal, as well as the Administration (Overlay) recommended version, for referral to the Planning Board.  On July 28, 2021, the City Commission referred both the sponsor (“Resolution”) version and the Administration (“LDR Overlay”) recommended version to the Planning Board (item R9 Y).

BACKGROUND
On October 14th, 2020, the Urban Forestry Master Plan was approved unanimously by the City Commission, with the purpose of establishing a resilient tree canopy that will increase the canopy coverage in the City from 17% to 22% over the next 20 years. On March 17, 2021, two separate referrals were made to City Commission Committees regarding a process for allowing palm trees, in certain, defined areas of the City, to count toward the minimum number of required street trees (as opposed to the currently required canopy trees), and to allow palm trees to be eligible for Heritage Tree designation (currently this designation is for canopy trees). The proposed Ordinance amendment to Chapter 126 of the LDR’s that was originally referred to the LUSC proposed to allow palms or trees identified in a new, Appendix F of the Urban Forestry Master Plan to count towards the minimum number of required street trees established in Chapter 126.

For additional background, the following is a brief synopsis of the current unique roles of Chapter 46 and Chapter 126 of the City Code in the maintenance and enhancement of trees in the City:

Chapter 46, Division 2 – Tree Preservation and Protection
Pursuant to this Division of the City Code, the Urban Forestry Division administers the City’s tree preservation program, which includes the tree permitting program for the proposed removal or relocation of any palm or tree on public or private property. Mitigation for palm and tree canopy loss, either as part of a separate application or a development permit, is in the form of replacement canopy trees. A minimum of 50% of all replacement trees shall be native to South Florida. Palms may be included in landscape plans for a project, but they do not count for mitigation due to the low environmental benefits they provide. When the total number of trees required as replacement trees cannot be reasonably planted on the property or a suitable alternate location cannot be identified, a property owner can contribute to the City’s Tree Preservation Trust Fund as an alternative.

Chapter 126 – Landscape Requirements
The regulations set forth in Chapter 126 establish minimum landscape standards that enhance, improve, and maintain the quality of the City’s landscape. This includes preventing the destruction of the City’s existing tree canopy on public and private property and promoting its expansion and diversification. Chapter 126 provides the following minimum street tree requirements:

• Street tree plantings shall be provided along all roadways at a maximum average spacing of 20 feet on center.

• Minimum tree height: 12 to 14 feet.

• Minimum palm height: 15 feet of clear or grey wood.

• Street tree diversification to prevent a monoculture and to prevent significant tree loss due to disease that may impact specific tree species.

Chapter 126 allows for palms to be planted in addition to the required number of street trees; palms are an important part of our Miami Beach identity. However, palms do not count towards the minimum number of required trees since canopy trees will help achieve overall urban forestry goals of shade, heat reduction, biodiversity, disease resistance and storm water management.

ANALYSIS

PLANNING ANALYSIS
On July 28, 2021, the City Commission referred 2 versions of the proposed amendment to Chapter 126:

1. The LDR Overlay option, recommended by the Administration.

2. A revised version of the Resolution Overlay option, with more review protections, and recommended by the item sponsor.

The following is an analysis of both options:

LDR Overlay Version
This version provides a more tailored option for addressing the unique, individual character of neighborhoods citywide, including, more specifically, La Gorce Island. In this regard, the overlay option establishes provisions for creating landscape overlays for specific neighborhoods and includes the following specific provisions:

• Subsection 126-8, entitled ‘Landscape Neighborhood Overlay’ has been created. This subsection establishes a purpose and process for creating specific overlays within the City.

• Within the overlay areas, distinct and iconic landscaping features, that contribute to a unique and prominent neighborhood character, will be identified and permitted to be retained.

• Landscape Neighborhood Overlays must still comply with all applicable regulations set forth in Chapter 126 and Chapter 46, including minimum landscape standards and contributions into the Tree Trust Fund.

• All future Landscape Neighborhood Overlays would be added through the LDR amendment process, including Planning Board review and transmittal.

• The La Gorce Island Neighborhood has been identified as the first Landscape Neighborhood Overlay. This overlay recognizes the aesthetic characteristics associated with the long-term planting of Royal Palms and Canary Island Date Palms within its rights of way. The La Gorce Island overlay also establishes provisions that will preserve the long-term characteristics of this distinct streetscape.

Resolution Version
This version also provides a tailored approach for addressing the unique, individual character of neighborhoods citywide. La Gorce Island is included as part of this version, but not within the body of the Ordinance. The resolution option establishes similar provisions for creating landscape overlays for specific neighborhoods and includes the following specific provisions:

• Subsection 126-8, entitled ‘Landscape Neighborhood Overlay’ has been created. This subsection establishes a purpose and process for creating specific overlays within the City.

• Within the overlay areas, distinct and iconic landscaping features, that contribute to a unique and prominent neighborhood character, will be identified and permitted to be retained.

• Landscape Neighborhood Overlays must still comply with all applicable regulations set forth in Chapter 126 and Chapter 46, including minimum landscape standards and contributions into the Tree Trust Fund.

• All future Landscape Neighborhood Overlays would be added through Resolution, approved by the City Commission at a public hearing.

• The La Gorce Island Neighborhood has been identified as the first Landscape Neighborhood Overlay and would be approved via a separate Resolution. This overlay recognizes the aesthetic characteristics associated with the long-term planting of Royal Palms and Canary Island Date Palms within its rights of way. The La Gorce Island overlay also establishes provisions that will preserve the long-term characteristics of this distinct streetscape.

Both proposals provided herein address the unique character and identity of individual neighborhoods, while still being consistent with the goals and objectives of the UFMP, as well as Chapter 46 and Chapter 126 of the City code. Future Neighborhood Landscape Overlays would be considered on a case specific basis, taking into consideration the unique characteristics of a particular neighborhood, as well as existing and proposed species of trees and palms.

The primary difference between the 2 versions of the Ordinance is that under the LDR Overlay Version of the Ordinance, future overlays would require an amendment to the LDRs, and Planning Board review would be required. Under the Resolution Version, future overlays would only require a single public hearing before the City Commission approval.

Considering the significant role that landscape plays within the City’s environment and the critical need for canopy coverage citywide, the Administration believes that the LDR Overlay Version of the Ordinance is the best option. In this regard, although it requires a slightly lengthier process (Planning Board review, as well as 2 readings before the City Commission), this extra level of review will ensure that the proposed Neighborhood Landscape Overlay has merit, and that that the specific provisions of future overlays are well constructed.

PLANNING BOARD REVIEW
On September 28, 2021, the Planning Board held a public hearing and was supportive of the overall concept and purpose of the proposed legislation. The Board transmitted both versions of the Ordinance to the City Commission, in accordance with the following recommendations:

1. The Resolution version of the Ordinance was transmitted to the City Commission with a recommendation to include an enhanced notice provision consistent with the residents right to know platform. The motion for this version of the Ordinance was approved by a vote of 3-2, which constitutes an unfavorable recommendation.

2. The LDR Overlay version of the Ordinance was transmitted to the City Commission with no changes. The motion for this version of the Ordinance was approved by a vote of 4-1, which constitutes a favorable recommendation.

APPLICATION FEE WAIVER
The subject amendment was referred on a comprehensive, citywide basis, and not on behalf of a private applicant or third party. Pursuant to section 118-162(c) of the Land Development Regulations of the City Code, amendments to the City Code require the payment of the applicable fees in section 118-7 and Appendix A. These fees may be waived by a five-sevenths (5/7ths) vote of the City Commission, based upon one or more of the following circumstances:

1. The City Manager determines, in writing, that the proposed amendment is necessary due to a change in federal or state law, and/or to implement best practices in urban planning;

2. Upon written recommendation of the city manager acknowledging a documented financial hardship of a property owner(s) or developer(s); and/or

3. If requested, in writing, by a non-profit organization, neighborhood association, or homeowner's association for property owned by any such organization or association, so long as the request demonstrates that a public purpose is achieved by enacting the applicable amendment.

The City Manager has determined that the proposed amendment is necessary to implement best practices in urban planning.

SUPPORTING SURVEY DATA

Address Landscaping and Sustainability Citywide

CONCLUSION

The Administration recommends the following:

1. In accordance with section 118-162(c) of the City Code, the City Commission waive the applicable application fees based upon the legislation implementing best practices in urban planning.

2. The City Commission approve the LDR OVERLAY version of the subject Ordinance at First Reading and set a Second Reading/Public Hearing for December 8, 2021.

Applicable Area

Citywide
Is this a "Residents Right to Know" item, pursuant to City Code Section 2-14? Does this item utilize G.O. Bond Funds?
Yes No 
Legislative Tracking
Planning
Sponsor
Commissioner Steven Meiner

ATTACHMENTS:
Description
Ordinance 1
Ordinance 2