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What's a Half a car? by:

That was the question Margate City Commissioner, Tommy Ruzzano, shared with fellow commissioners and Margate planning officials at the November city meeting.

In response to the approval of 1.5 parking spaces per unit for a new development at the intersection of 31st Street and 441 in Margate, Coral Bay resident Tony Spavento, said it’s dangerous, impractical and unrealistic.

“It’s insane to think you can half one and a half parking spots for a 3-bedroom house or apartment,” he told commissioners.

Spavento was addressing a project recently given a green light by the city’s Development Review Committee (DRC) for 240 garden apartments on the 10.5 acre lot adjacent to the Penn Dutch Plaza - the old cow pasture, he called it. He said the development is poorly planned because it includes no egress to State Road 7, which will result in a nightmare for residents living there and for neighbors in surrounding communities. The project shows a single, unified entrance and exit to the development on 31st Street with a stacking lane big enough for only three cars - in comparison to the stacking lane for Coral Bay that accommodates eight cars, Spavento said.

“I would hate to have to leave that place to go to work in the morning. Traffic backs up from 441 past the entrance to the community,” he said, adding that since two new schools have been added to the street plans on the ground have changed.

Land use for the parcel was rezoned from commercial to residential in 2005 when 133 townhomes were originally scheduled for the property. When the housing market went bust and demand for single family homes plummeted, the property was re-approved for 262 apartments, head of Economic Development for the City, Ben Ziskal, told commissioners. Since, the city rezoned State Road 7 as TOC-G (Transit Oriented Corridor - Gateway) and dropped parking requirements for developers of the parcel from 2 cars to 1.5 cars to account for an increase in public transportation use by residents - a hypothetical consideration at best. To arrive at 1.5 parking spaces, Ziskal said the City used a formula based on an average number of bedrooms for the entire development, as some apartments have one and others three. Additionally, one guest parking space is required per 10 units.

Ruzzano suggested the City reconsider the parking requirement because it isn’t smart. He said the same has been approved for a nearby apartment development in the old Rancho mobile home park and is going to create problems for residents. He agreed with Spavento in that the minimum parking requirement per unit should be two spaces.

“What’s a half a car? Somebody please explain that to me,” he said.

Margate resident and Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, Anthony Caggiano, said he believes two parking spaces per unit is critical. Most couples have at least two cars and if they have a child over 16 living with them that makes three.

“This is Florida. This isn’t New York where people are jumping on trains and buses,” Caggiano said.”1.5 just doesn’t cut it.

”Margate resident, Rich Popovic, first complemented Ruzzano for his insight and then railed the commission for enabling the absurd zoning change years ago.

“The fact that the commission was flim-flammed and coerced into going along with this shows how fragile the decision process is up here,” he told commissioners. “It’s scary, because you’re also in charge of our redevelopment.”

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