A wide-ranging plan that re-envisions Key Biscayne as a resilient, walkable and thriving village full of green space heads to the Village Council after unanimous approval by the 2040 Vision Board last week.
The plan is a wish list, based on 700 survey responses and a week of brainstorming sessions with professional urban designers.
Among the biggest ideas — a traffic circle for the island’s congested entry block, a bayside park, and changes to the zoning code that would fix what the panel sees as loopholes in the island’s current zoning laws. The plan also emphasizes “multi-generational living” that could make an adult living facility a reality on the island.
The panel made one significant addition Thursday — a new segment that showed the perils of not making changes to the island’s current zoning code. It showed an artist’s concept of a boxy structure the current law would permit on Crandon Boulevard — something the committee said should be avoided.
“Put a red line over it,” said board member Lucia Marin. “This is what we don’t want.” Instead, the vision plan recommends the council adopt changes encouraging mixed use facilities that would allow, for example, retail and housing units to be constructed on the same property.
The Vision Board, which is an advisory group only, went out of existence after completing its report to the council.
But the Vision Board’s work was not without its detractors, drawing sharp critique from mayoral candidate Fausto Gomez, who wrote in an email to voters that the Vision Board engaged in “plans to overdevelop Key Biscayne.”
“Most of us know very little about this or had the opportunity to participate,” Gomez wrote, asking readers “haven’t heard of this?”
But the panel said all of its ideas came out of requests by the community and input on a website that had 7,000 visitors, which was named “Speak Up Key Biscayne.” The plan includes a section addressing a “commercial core that was “outdated, unfriendly to pedestrians, not offering sufficient visibility for retailers, and unable to accommodate outdoor dining space.”
Oscar Sardiñas, a Village Council candidate at Thursday’s final meeting, called the plan “a great vision and a great roadmap.”
Building, Zoning, and Planning Director Jeremy Calleros Gauger was tasked with incorporating the changes. It’s expected to be presented to the new council taking office after November’s elections.
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Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.