ICA EDITORIALS - WHY A ZONING MORATORIUM IS NECESSARY
Why a zoning moratorium is necessary
Planning and zoning laws in Islamorada largely have been effective since they were developed more than 20 years ago. But, with a looming moratorium on development in 2023, overdevelopment and increased intensity has overwhelmed the village’s efforts to maintain its community character and preserve its natural beauty.
Transitions from mom-and-pop businesses to corporate-owned resorts and services has changed the mantra of “You don’t have to stay here to play here” to instead having to check in or pass by a security guard for access and enjoyment.
Worse, we have seen the enemy and sometimes it is us. Some residents who have lived and loved here – and some who even helped write our laws -- seek to monetize Islamorada for their personal gain. Some game the system, such as “earning” a permit in our Building Permit Allocation System despite their property being unsuitable for a building just so they can turn around and sell the permit they were granted for a $200,000 profit, when they never intended to build in the first place. When residents request a building and zoning moratorium, it is due to actions like this. We say enough is enough. We have to fix our clearly broken development system to ensure it works to preserve community character instead of diminishing it.
We are on the brink of overdevelopment because permits for new residential development may end in 2023 and sites which formerly held tiny mobile homes, trailers and cottages are set to be redeveloped in to mega-mansions and full-time vacation rentals. These new developments affect infrastructure in ways no one ever anticipated when the BPAS was established.
Zoning plays a part in the disastrous and long-lasting effects of redevelopment because re-zoning is merely a method used to increase density and/or create density that is harmful to our environment and quality of life. Too much of the wrong kind of redevelopment is not good for our economy in the long term.
What we believe:
Certain actions to build on or to re-zone lots are a threat to community character.
What we seek to pause during a moratorium:
With a moratorium, there is time to make decisions based on our community’s long-term goals and Comprehensive Plan policies, and not circumvent our policies through decisions based on friendships, money and economic opportunity, and ignoring the problems. We ask you to help protect what makes Islamorada special and take the necessary steps to solve problems caused by misguided development.