Despite vocal public objections, Wilton Manors’ Planning & Zoning Board approved the expansion of the transit-oriented corridor.
In a 5-2 vote, the board approved expanding the TOC to cover nearly 40 acres of private property on the city’s east side. The expansion pushes the TOC boundaries east of NE 15th Ave. on the north and side sides of NE 26th Street all the way to the city limits at Middle River.
James Hickey, planning director for Calvin, Giordano & Associates, Inc. presented the eastside expansion to the board. Hickey’s firm is proposing to amend the city’s comprehensive plan for redevelopment purposes.
The approval by the planning & zoning board at its March 9 meeting was for land use only and does not involve height and density which would be a zoning decision to be determined at a future meeting, said Commissioner Mike Bracchi.
More than 50 people opposed the TOC expansion. Many residents expressed concern over the prospects of large-scale development and towering projects. Commissioners have been inundated with emails and calls concerning planning and zoning.
“One of the things that they're most concerned about is we’re ramming it down their throats in a rushed fashion,” said Commissioner Gary Resnick, who admitted he wasn’t sure what’s going on with eastside development.
Vice Mayor Paul Rolli acknowledged the city hasn’t done the best job of communicating its plans for future planning.
“It’s really groundbreaking for the city to move forward with this kind of plan for economic development,” said Rolli. “I think it’s important that we all send the same message of cooperation in that anybody who wants to speak or have input that we listen to them and that their opinion is as important as anybody else.”
Both Rolli and Resnick asked planning and zoning board members to do a better job of receiving feedback from all interested parties.
“It didn’t seem to me that a lot of the board members last night wanted public input on the issue they were considering,” Resnick said.
The public has another chance to express their feelings about the TOC eastside expansion on Tuesday, March 16. Wilton Manors is hosting a virtual workshop on Zoom beginning at 6:30 p.m.
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