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On a 4-to-1 vote, Wilton Manors Commissioners advanced a much-debated article to the city’s land-use code.

In a five-hour meeting on July 27, Article 30 of the Unified Land Development Regulations continued its course to written law. Commissioners discussed heights, setbacks and stepbacks in the transit-oriented corridors. During the public hearing several developers and residents offered opinions in person and via Zoom.

Commissioner Chris Caputo said the vote was a responsible, appropriate step forward.

“Article 30 addresses our city’s need for smart development within our transit-oriented corridors,” Caputo said. “These updates are literally years in the making and the result of thousands of hours of effort and input from community stakeholders.”

The latest round of changes involved the definition of density. The article calculates density as “only the acreage containing the building footprint and any required incentives shall be calculated to establish density at a maximum of 60 units per gross acre of the building.”

Roberta Moore, director of Community Development Services, joined by Jim Hickey of the planning firm Calvin, Giordano & Associates made the presentation. A city map outlining proposed hubs was displayed showing base heights and stories with the tallest buildings 一 eight stories 一 proposed for the area around the five points intersection on the city’s east side.

“I’m confident we are going to retain our small town charm while also allowing for the much needed redevelopment of our aging properties and plazas,” Caputo said.

Commissioner Gary Resnick cast the lone no vote on Article 30 which now moves on for a second reading and public hearing in late August or early September. Mayor Scott Newton, sceptical of previous development plans, joined the majority in the latest voting. Newton said when he moved to Wilton Manors in 1960 buildings over two stories did not exist.

Other notes from the meeting:

Chef Josie Smith-Malave, of Bravo TV’s Top Chef fame, was appointed to the board of the Wilton Drive Improvement District.  Smith-Malave owns Bubbles + Pearls Champagne Raw on Wilton Drive. She came in a distant third in the 2020 mayoral election.

“Thank you for stepping up,” Commissioner Mike Bracchi told Smith-Malave. “A lot of times people may run for election and get discouraged if they don’t win and kind of disappear. You are very vibrant and I’m sure you are going to be active on this board and I hope to see good things from you.”

Four people were appointed to the Community Affairs Advisory Board. Michael Sansevero and Carvelle Estriplet were re-appointed and Harrison C. Davies and Jasmen Rogers were appointed to their first terms. Davies is a Google Maps aficionado and Rogers, a political consultant, narrowly lost in the 2020 Democratic primary for the Florida House of Representatives in District 95.

Commissioner Resnick proposed dissolving the city’s civil service board due to lack of meetings. “It’s a waste of time to find people to serve on a board that never meets,” he said. “It’s not a good government.”

A resolution extending the use of vertical feather flag signs and temporary banners through the end of the year passed on a 4-to-1 vote with Resnick in dissent.

Resident Michael Rajner continued his quest for the city to implement ranked voting in its elections, asking commissioners to start discussions around the idea. Rajner also asked commissioners to re-issue a mask mandate for indoors in light of the rise of the delta variant of the coronavirus. Near the close of the meeting, Mayor Newton indicated capacity limits in the chamber would not be increased due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in Florida.

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