Architects panel to review new plans for single-family homes in Miami Beach

Venetian Islands
Venetian Islands

In a bid to speed the approvals process for new home construction and ensure architectural compatibility in Miami Beach neighborhoods, the Miami Beach City Commission on Wednesday approved an ordinance on a second reading that will create a 15-member rotating panel of design professionals to review new single-family residential home construction.  

The Miami Beach Panel of Architects (or MBPOA) will serve for one year on a rotating basis with three members of the panel meeting on a bi-weekly basis to review projects. A quorum of two members would be required to consider any application and a simple majority will be required to approve any application.  

Currently, the Miami Beach Design Review Board reviews all applications for demolitions of pre-1942 homes, and the new panel’s authority would only apply to post-1942 homes. The DRB also does not have the ability to prevent home demolitions and neither would the MBPOA — something only the city’s Historic Preservation Board has the authority to do.  

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All members of the MBPOA will be appointed by the city manager and be approved by the city commission, and each member of the panel will have to be either a resident of or have a business located on Miami Beach. There is a residency waiver provision providing the applicant does most of their business in the city.  

The ordinance was sponsored by Commissioner Joy Malakoff who told her fellow commissioners that the new measure will help compatibility in Miami Beach neighborhoods where hundreds of older homes have been slated for demolition in recent years — many to be replaced by much larger structures that she says overwhelm their neighbors. “I think there are of lot of residential homes built that are not compatible,” said Malakoff.  

Commissioners also passed a separate ordinance allowing for an exception from the city’s ethics ordinance, which currently prohibits architects and landscape architects from sitting on municipal committees, like the design review board or historic preservation board. To avoid any potential conflict of interest, no member of the MBPOA would be allowed to review a project if they have a permitted project in the city. The ordinance is now subject to voter approval and it will appear on the November ballot.