Small residential development in the eastern Broward city of Oakland Park is on hold, after the city Tuesday night declared a building moratorium.
The moratorium, an option cities don’t often resort to, suspends some property rights for six months in the downtown zone. No small multi-family projects — villas, townhouses, duplexes, and garden apartments — will be approved during the temporary ban, expected to end on Oct. 18.
City officials said they envision a “small-town downtown” with more residents, and a walking-friendly layout.
They’re tired of seeing small residential projects of limited investment, on small properties, that don’t do much to improve the quality of life, officials said.
“I feel like our downtown is growing up,” Mayor John Adornato said when commissioners cast the first approval in mid-April.
The city has been abuzz with development activity and with inquiries from developers considering townhouses and villas, officials said. The city will rework development rules during the moratorium to steer it in a direction they prefer.
“I don’t want to make the statement down the road I wish we would have taken the time. or this is what we could have had,” Commissioner Michael Carn said at the same April meeting. “I don’t want to live with regret.”
The moratorium won a unanimous vote Tuesday, with little comment.
Developers can expect to be encouraged by the eventual new rules to assemble larger pieces of land, and to build denser projects to house more people, but still at a maximum height of five or six stories, officials said in public hearings leading up to Tuesday. More amenities might be required, like benches, curbs, and street lights. The parking requirements will be redone, as well.
“You need bodies; you need people in your downtown to make it work,’’ Renee Miller of Miller Consulting said in a February presentation to commissioners.
Larger residential projects won’t be paused by the moratorium; that’s the type of construction the city encourages, City Manager David Hebert said.
The moratorium is part of a larger effort the city is undertaking to modernize its land development rules and continue to foster a small but hip city center. Stephen Scott, assistant director of planning, zoning and building, said progress already has been made. The city created a culinary arts district, and attracted Funky Buddha Brewery.
The downtown starts at Oakland Park Boulevard, spanning north to about 43rd Street. On the east and west it is bordered by Northeast 10th and 13th avenues. The city’s Main Street is 12th Avenue, next to the Florida East Coast railroad tracks. Just west of the tracks, Dixie Highway also runs through the downtown zone.
The city is less than eight square miles, and is one of the 16 of Broward’s 31 cities with a population less than 50,000.
Brittany Wallman can be reached at email@example.com or 954-356-4541. Find her on Twitter @BrittanyWallman.