Residents of a quiet neighborhood south of Oakland Park Boulevard clapped and cheered on January 8th after city commissioners agreed to remove their street from a redevelopment plan they feared could destroy their peace and quiet.
The proposed Transit Oriented Corridor (TOC) would promote redevelopment by increasing density and allowing zoning changes that would allow a mix of uses.
“I’m very happy,” said longtime resident Ron Burr, who lives in the 600 block of Northwest 30th Court. “There is a huge unknown about what the TOC is going to do. We are a 100 percent residential neighborhood. There is no reason we should be part of a TOC amendment.
After months of protests from residents, city commissioners finally agreed to carve Northwest 30th Court out of a proposed redevelopment corridor that will extend east on Oakland Park Boulevard from Interstate 95 to Andrews Avenue and south on Andrews Avenue to the Wilton Manors city limits.
Northwest 30th Court is ashort residential street that runs parallel to the south side of Oakland Park Boulevard in an area east of Interstate 95 and west of Andrews Avenue. Approximately 75 single family homes line this quiet street, with the homes on the south side of Northwest 30th Court bordering the Middle River.
“I don’t want the city to initiate a change on a residential street because I’ve seen that backfire,” said Commissioner Gary Resnick. “I don’t see the City Commission necessarily protecting the interests of the residential character of the neighborhood. We haven’t done that.”
Resnick said he understood why residents worried that a future commission might not look out for their interests.
City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson had asked the commission for direction on how to proceed after the city was flooded with complaints from residents who lived on Northwest 30th Court.
Burr, who attended the Jan. 8th commission meeting, spoke with passion before the commission agreed to remove the street from the redevelopment plan.
“We ask that you take NW 30th Court out of the TOC and leave us alone,” Burr said. “We have a nice little community here, a close-knit neighborhood and we don’t want to be destroyed. It’s our neighborhood. Leave it alone.”
In the end, commissioners did.
If Wilton Manors wants to add the street back into the TOC plan in the future, it will cost $2,500 in consulting fees and take about 60 days to make revisions.
Homeowners had worried that future commercial development could mar the tranquility of their quiet neighborhood.
Commissioners Paul Rolli and Julie Carson also agreed that the neighborhood should be pulled from the TOC. Mayor Justin Flippen supported the area’s inclusion in the TOC but agreed to its removal in the spirit of consensus.
Vice Mayor Tom Green, however, was the sole dissenter. Green said that changing the area’s land use plan would make residents’ property more valuable and urged the homeowners to consider their request carefully.
“This land use change is literally a gift from the city to you for your property values. The triangle area in Wilton Manors was zoned residential, one home, and when we talked about a change there with the zoning everyone was afraid of what it would do to their property values,” Green said. “You know what? It did change their property values. They went up by 25 to 50 percent within two years. Anytime you make something that’s higher in density or the possibility or the potential of it, again, it is a gift.”
The city’s Planning and Zoning Board in July 2018 recommended the TOC be approved, saying the changes would help improve the Oakland Park/Andrews Avenue corridors and encourage redevelopment.
Broward County, the state and several other agencies must evaluate the TOC proposal and take action on it before it is ultimately approved, said Robert Moore, Wilton Manors Director of Community Development Services.