posted on 28 Mar 2015 09:06 by bettercongress143
FORT LAUDERDALE -- To build or not to build is not the question.
Instead, city commissioners are asking where they should promote new development, how big should they allow those projects to be and how big a buffer is needed to protect existing neighborhoods from being hurt by the city's growth.
Commissioners held the second in a series of meetings Tuesday about future development and heard a clear theme from the public: Don't be so preoccupied with growing the city that you destroy its neighborhoods or bring traffic to a standstill.
"We do not need traffic studies to know that traffic has become a nightmare in Fort Lauderdale," said Theo Folz, president of the Corinthian Condominium Association, south of Sunrise Boulevard on the west side of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Mayor Jack Seiler said what's good for downtown, where new high-rises are changing the skyline, won't necessarily do elsewhere. Seiler said he's comfortable with the downtown's increased density because the city is creating a public transportation hub designed for people to live, work and play without using their cars.
He said that same planning won't work on the city's barrier island, which already endures regular tie-ups on weekends with beach traffic.
"I hope we're treating the corridors to the beach and the central beach different than we're treating downtown," Seiler said.
Marilyn Mammano, president of the Council of Fort Lauderdale Civic Associations, is glad the city is discussing where to promote growth and where to put on the brakes. Her top priority is making sure the city's neighborhoods can co-exist with the more intense developments being planned.
"You have to look at the transition between the two," Mammano said.
Among the major projects currently being proposed is a $1 billion complex of homes, senior-living apartments and hotel rooms -- including a 45-story tower -- next to the Galleria mall on Sunrise.
The city is also being asked to approve a number of proposed developments on the beach, where there's a concern about how much more growth is possible without completely clogging the roads.
Abby Laughlin from the Central Beach Alliance is concerned the commission might be counting too much on getting people to leave their cars at home, especially downtown residents.
"Not everybody is going to want to walk," Laughlin said.
Laughlin said all the talk about millennials as a generation that prefers an urban setting with public transportation is a temporary phenomenon.
"They grow up. They will have children of their own," Laughlin said. The city's schools and neighborhoods have to maintain their appeal as growth occurs if the city hopes to keep those millennials here, she said.
Commissioners plan to continue the discussion at a May meeting, after they've had a chance to digest the comments and new information presented by staff.
Mammano knows the city's going to grow as the economy strengthens, summing up her thoughts at an earlier meeting: "We're all rock-and-rolling with the party, but we don't want the party to turn into a rave."
Lbarszewski@tribpub.com or 954-356-4556
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