Monroe County BOCC Votes To Approve Zoning Changes For Workforce Housing Project

KEY WEST —  The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve future land use and zoning  changes to two parcels of land owned by Rockland Operations on Big Coppitt and Rockland keys for a much-needed affordable/workforce housing project at the Wednesday monthly meeting at the Harvey Government Center in Key West.

The Board approved changing the zoning from Industrial (I)  and Commercial Fishing Area (CFA) to Mixed Use (MU) with limitations on a 14.8-acre parcel on Big Coppitt Key, where the proposed project would be built. The Board also approved changing the zoning from Industrial (I) to Commercial 2 (C2) on the parcel on Rockland Key, where no residential housing would be allowed.

The Board voted to approve the future land use and zoning changes on the proposed residential development project with the criteria that only affordable housing can be built on the site, and that the mix must be at least 20 percent of low and very low housing combined, at least 10 percent median housing and the rest moderate  housing. The proposed project would allow for a maximum of 212 units, making the break down about  42 units (very low and low combined), 21 media and 149 moderate.

The Commissioners acknowledged the concerns of residents who live near the proposed development about increased traffic and a change of their neighborhood’s character, but voted to allow the zoning changes due to the undeniable need of affordable/workforce housing in the County.
The County has 710 affordable Rate of Growth Ordinance units remaining, but they have not been used in recent years due to the high cost of land in the Keys that makes affordable housing projects cost prohibitive. This proposed project is being done by developers who already own the land and are using all private funds.

This is just the first step in a long process. To continue the project, Rockland Operations must next propose a development agreement that is consistent with the County’s Comprehensive Plan and County Code, as well as the criteria adopted at Wednesday’s BOCC meeting. The developers also will have to receive approval down the line from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the BOCC again and other entities, as well as go through the building permitting process, before they could ever break ground.

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