Monday, March 12, 2007

The Master Plan!

The board table is located in the rear of the City of North Miami Council Chambers. Usually at meetings various department heads and members of their staff sit there. The lighting is better and it's handy to have a table for looking over papers and writing notes. Usually at council meetings there are more empty seats than occupied between the board table and the front of the room where the council sits.

This was different. It was time to update the city's master plan. The last time this was done the population was about 40,000 and now it's 60,000. The county school board is planning on tearing down the old high school and junior high, both built in the 1950's, and replace them with a new high school and middle school. A few state roads through the city used to be two lane. They now have four lanes plus a left turn lane. Traffic has increased.

In the late 60's several hi-rise condos and office buildings went up but a citizens' initiative managed to approve a charter ammendment limiting the height of new buildings to four stories, with an exeption for hospitals. One ambitious nusing home tried calling itself a hospital, but they didn't get away with it. Our North Miami General Hospital merged with another, Parkway, located just outside the city and the building is now a culinary institute, so the exeption is meaningless.

The proposed new plan will allow higher buildings in some areas, as well as "mixed use" such as stores and offices at street level, with apartments above. The city is also hoping to aquire some run down residential properties, raze them, and make mini parks throughout the city.

In the meantime we're being treated to a series of packed public hearings with an endless stream of people voicing their thoughts. Others are bombarding the mayor and council with Emails. In the end that map on the easel in the forground, created by the city planners, will most likely be approved with very minor modifications. Things will quiet down for another ten years. The seats will be mostly empty again.

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