Miami Beach considers more rules for single-family home construction

Critics call proposed guidelines on scale a threat to property rights

Jun.June 26, 2013 11:00 AM

For a third time in a decade, Miami Beach is considering beefing up guidelines for single-family home construction, riling some developers, architects and brokers in an attempt to balance property rights with climate priorities and preservation claims.

An ordinance proposed by the city’s land use and development committee would require that when a new construction replaces an “architecturally significant” home, it mimic the scale, massing and building orientation of its predecessor, according to a March committee memo to the city, so that it is consistent with the style and character of the neighborhood.

Critics refer to this as “downzoning.”

“This downzoning will basically reduce the value of the single-family homes that are not newly constructed or have built to their maximum allowable FAR under current and already strict building codes. They are basically stealing property rights,” Dora Puig, a luxury broker in Miami Beach, wrote in an email circulated among South Florida’s real estate industry ahead of a planning board meeting Tuesday.

The ordinance responds to concerns about an uptick in applications to demolish single-family homes. Some 20 requests were made to the city last year to tear down existing properties and replace them with new construction, according to the memo.

“Oversize speculative homes are ruining our visual image,” Miami Design Preservation League member Clotilde Luce said during the meeting. Luce cited the ultra-contemporary home of Alex Rodriguez on North Bay Road, which the Yankees slugger sold for $30 million in May, as well as 42 Star Island, a 1925 mansion visible from the Macarthur Causeway whose owners, a “Real Housewives of Miami” cast member and her plastic surgeon husband, want to demolish and replace with new construction.

“42 Star Island anchors our visual identity, whether it’s your house or not,” Luce said.

After opponents including Puig and Coldwell Banker’s top agent team, Jill Eber and Jill Hertzberg, filled the commissioners’ chambers at City Hall Tuesday, the city’s planning board voted to open up the debate by holding public workshops.

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