Most residents who spoke about the proposed townhouse project at 549 NE 21 Ct. were in favor of the project. But, citing density concerns, commissioners did not approve the developer’s request for 12 flex units.
Tim Hernandez, owner of New Urban Communities, had requested 12 flex units for his proposed 16-unit townhome development behind Gables Wilton Park. Only four are allowed under code but commissioners are allowed to award extra flex units if they choose and increase the number of units that can be built.
But for commissioners, 16 was just too many for the 0.8-acre piece of land. “I would never support 16 units on a piece of land that size,” said Commissioner Tom Green. Instead, commissioners voted 4-0 to approve eight flex units. Commissioner Julie Carson left the meeting before the vote took place but voted no when the project first came to the commission on Feb. 27.
Commissioners tabled a separate related ordinance to their May 8 meeting to give Hernandez time to redesign his project and bring it back for approval. “I can’t make 12 units work,” said Hernandez.
Asked by Mayor Gary Resnick why he requested the same amount of flex units as he did at the Feb. 27 meeting, even though commissioners said they wouldn’t approve that number, Hernandez said he thought a conversation about 14 units would come up. Resnick countered, saying Hernandez hadn’t submitted any other plan besides the original. “Now, you’re dealing with a [time crunch] situation,” said Resnick.
Before the number of flex units was decreased, Hernandez said the project would be good for the city because it would bring in more residents within walking business of Wilton Drive who would support local businesses. Resident Ken Stone told commissioners to be careful. “We need growth but we’ve got to be very cautious.”
The residents who supported the project cited an increase in tax revenue. One man against the project said it would ruin his privacy because people would be able to see over his fence. Hernandez disputed that, saying there would be a lot of trees.
Others in support said it would increase the availability of housing that was affordable by Wilton Manors standards.
“I never said affordable,” said Hernandez. He estimated the cost to purchase the units, if built, would be in the high $400,000 range. “Mid $500s, hopefully.”