City of Doral growth is part of a Master Plan

 Interview with Julian Perez, Planning and Zoning Director

Para leer en Español

By: Maria Alejandra Pulgar, @marialepulgar

 

Julian PerezThe Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP), the document that sets the pace for the growth and development of the City of Doral is currently undergoing a review. It is a lengthy process that covers the different elements that define the structure of the city: green initiatives; future land use; transportation; housing; infrastructure; conservation; parks and recreation; education facilities; intergovernmental coordination and capital improvements.

The first plan was adopted in 2005. Its preparation was the first natural consequence of incorporation, as residents of the City of Doral were finally able to decide on their vision for their municipality. Over the years the different elements have been updated depending on the needs of the community. In all the cases, input from residents and business owners have been key to incorporate their needs to the updated plan. The last modification of the plan took place in 2013.

Doral Family Journal met with Planning and Zoning Director Julian Perez, who gave a thorough explanation of the process that is followed when updating any components of the plan for the City, the importance of public involvement in that process and what are the changes that are shaping the future way to live, work, learn and play in the City of Doral.

Understanding the Plan

“The comprehensive plan is a policy document” said Perez, “created through what we understand in our business as the data inventory analysis. We evaluate each of the elements and generate the technical information we need to develop the policy component.”

It is not as the Doral Boulevard Master Plan or other documents that can be reviewed in the website of the City, where people can actually see how Doral will look like in the future. The CMP is a guiding document where are described goals, objectives and policies.

“It is the document that we use in order to make sure that the developments that are coming to our community are consistent first with the land use and then with the zoning map.”
Those are the maps that Planning and Zoning uses on a day to day basis to do all their work.

The future land use map is the most important one, is the policy map based on all the information described in the CMP and the input provided by residents and business owners.

Collecting input from the residents

The current review of the CMP covers the following elements: Green (environment and sustainability); Future land use; Transportation; Housing; Infrastructure and Parks and Recreation.

Perez explained that public participation on this process and any other changes in legislation can be done two ways. One of them is through attending the workshops held by his Department, as the one that took place in October, where they present the elements of the CMP that are being reviewed. All ideas from public are then evaluated to determine to which of the reviewed elements and what part of the goals, objectives and policies they are pertinent and if the proposed modification is feasible.

“The second way that we take input is by the residents submitting to us emails, letters or coming and meeting with me personally, which I encourage them to do. Those are the ways how we incorporate or analyze the input that is provided.”

Changing legislation is not an easy process and public has plenty of time to participate. As Perez explains, it is a “five step process. For example, you come with an idea as a developer and approach me explaining how a change of zoning is important because that is how an area is developing, that is the ‘trend of development’. “

“The next thing is to go up and consult with the elected body and the city manager, if they say the idea is fine the third step is to now begin to grab all documents. Large scale amendments have to go through a state review process that takes two hearings, quasi-judicial, and I have to present competent substantial evidence to the record in case there is a legal challenge. The whole process takes between 6 to 8 months. The beauty of it is that you have the flexibility and the right to change it if it is needed.”

The current review of the CMP started in February 2015 and there have been several public workshops for the residents to give their opinions and observations on the different components.

Current developments are consistent with the plan

Any development that takes place in Doral has to follow the policies established on the CMP. Many of those that are currently being built where approved several years ago either under the City’s CMP guidelines at the time or even the County’s before incorporation. Perez explained that once approved a project is vested and can proceed to develop at any moment the owner deems appropriate.

“All those developments went through a process many years ago and got their approvals and back then were reviewed for consistency with the comprehensive plan. We can’t deprive anybody from building a project that has already been approved. If you do that then you enter into the legal aspect of all of this, it becomes what is call a ‘taking’. Property rights are protected by many laws, specifically in Florida, meaning that I can’t change any zoning or make any decision that would harm anybody’s property rights.”

Doral in the future: a mixed-use community

The Doral that is currently under development will be very different of the Doral of the 90’s or early 2000’s that was “bedroom community” and a commercial hub for other areas of Miami-Dade, causing for many to commute by car in and out of the city every day.

“Not only in Doral but in Miami-Dade County we are working very hard and diligently to expand the transportation system, especially the public transportation system. We have grown very fast and have not been able to keep up with the transportation component.”

Perez thinks that once the Doral Downtown area is completed, it will “bring about the vision of our elected body that we wanted to create a mixed use community, where mixed used developments are encourage, where people can live and work at a walking distance.”

“Also in the future you are going to see, as we improve the transportation and connectivity, that we are going to have areas in Doral very close to stations. And therefore in those areas we are looking at transit oriented developments. High parking, mixed use, great density and so forth, because you will have the transportation available right there.”

“What you are seeing on the North West side is more traditional, Euclidean zoning: Residential here, commercial here, industrial there.” The rest of the city however, is going to correspond with the mixed used vision.

The change is not easy, because it entails changes in the land use and also in the mentality of current residents, to understand the vision and adapt to it. A third factor is affordability, as new residential developments do not have offers that can be obtained by many of those who commute here daily, increasing the traffic congestion in the area.

The creation of options of workforce housing is part of the issues Planning is reviewing in the CMP. ”It is not low income housing but the type of housing we need to have the teachers, the police officers, the fire fighters stay within our community. When we talk about the vision, about the comprehensive planning process, this is one of the things that we also look at.”

Educated residents and business owners make the difference

“Everything is about education. When it comes to policy decisions is education, when it comes to development is all about location. And we have both happening at the same time” said Perez.

His department is constantly organizing workshops and meetings to keep the public informed about any changes that can affect them. Recently they had a presentation to explain residents about the re-designation of the Doral Legacy Park as a Green Reuse area, in order to be able to be considered within the Brownfields Redevelopment program. The resolution passed on First Reading during the November Zoning Meeting and will go for Second Reading in December.

There will also be a presentation about Special Taxing Districts on December 9th, to explain the County proposal to modify the program.

Educating the public “is one of the biggest challenges I have as a director” said Perez. “To me it is the most important thing; I practice it day to day with my staff as they develop in their profession. I do it with People that come from other places to invest in Doral.”

“What I can tell the community is that if you ever have a question or concern, whether as a resident, a businessperson, as a potential investor, the first place to come and see is City Hall, here at the second floor. As you walk in it says Solution Center; Take those words to heart. Ask, someone is going to help you and guide you.”

“From the resident’s perspective, they need to come, meet with us and have an open mind. What we are telling them is very different of what they were used to. Something we need to convey to everyone is that what we do here is based on a process, and that process needs to be respected, because that process is based on Florida Statutes. The comprehensive plan, the land development code has gone through all the legal steps. The law is flexible enough that it allows the municipality to change its regulations, but you have to go through a process were you take those changes through the Mayor and Council, through public hearings where everybody is given an opportunity to provide their input and then at the end of the day they make a decision” concluded Perez.

It all boils down to truly concerned citizens to take the time and make the effort to participate on those workshops, meetings and hearings. Being educated and informed; voicing their opinions timely and respectfully, through effective channels, will certainly be the best way to ensure that the real vision of the residents is reflected in all the plans and the future landscape of the city.

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————– En Español ——-——

 

Entrevista con Julián Pérez, Director de Planificación y Zonificación

Crecimiento de Doral es parte del Plan Maestro

 

Por: María Alejandra Pulgar, @marialepulgar

 

Julian PerezEl Plan Maestro (CMP por sus siglas en Ingles), es el documento que marca la pauta para el crecimiento y desarrollo de la Ciudad de Doral. Actualmente está en proceso de revisión, una tarea larga que cubre los diferentes aspectos que definen la estructura de la ciudad: iniciativas ecológicas, uso del terreno, transporte, residencias, conservación, parques y recreación, facilidades educativas, coordinación intergubernamental y mejoras de infraestructura.

Doral Family Journal se reunió con el Director de Planificación y Zonificación, Sr. Julián Pérez, quien explicó ampliamente el proceso necesario para actualizar todos los componentes del plan estratégico de la Ciudad, la importancia de la participación ciudadana y cuáles son los cambios que depara el futuro para la Ciudad de Doral.

Comprendiendo el Plan

“El Plan Maestro es un documento normativo” dijo Pérez, “creado en base al análisis de la información recogida del público. Evaluamos cada uno de los elementos y generamos la información técnica necesaria para desarrollar las políticas y normas correspondientes.”

En el CMP se establecen metas, objetivos y normas. “Es el documento que utilizamos para asegurar que los desarrollos en nuestra comunidad son consistentes con las normas de uso del terreno y con el mapa de zonificación. Tanto el mapa de Planificación como el de Zonificación los utilizamos diariamente en nuestro trabajo.”

El mapa de uso futuro del terreno es el más importante. Es un mapa que se basa en toda la información descrita en el CMP y en los aportes de residentes y empresarios de la ciudad.

Tomando en cuenta la opinión de los residentes

La revisión actual del CMP cubre los elementos siguientes: ambiente y sustentabilidad; uso del terreno, transporte; infraestructura habitacional; infraestructura general y Parques y Recreación.

Pérez explica que la participación del público en este proceso puede hacerse de dos maneras. Una es asistiendo a los talleres informativos organizados por su departamento, “y la otra es enviando cartas, correos electrónicos o asistiendo a reuniones particulares con nosotros. Esas son las maneras que nos permiten incorporar y analizar las opiniones que nos hacen llegar.”

La revisión actual del CMP comenzó en Febrero 2015. Se han realizado varios talleres informativos con los residentes para recoger opiniones y observaciones sobre los diferentes componentes. El mas reciente fue en Octubre.

Los desarrollos actuales coinciden con el plan

Todo desarrollo que se realiza en Doral debe seguir las normas establecidas en el CMP. Muchos de ellos fueron aprobados mucho tiempo atrás, bajo las normas del CMP vigente en esa época o incluso bajo la norma del Condado, antes de la incorporación de Doral como municipalidad. Pérez explica que, una vez aprobado, un proyecto ya tiene autorización y el dueño puede iniciar la obra cuando el considere apropiado.

“Todos esos desarrollos pasaron por procesos de aprobación hace muchos años atrás; fueron revisados por su consistencia con el Plan Maestro vigente a esa fecha. No podemos impedir un desarrollo cuando ya ha sido aprobado. Los derechos a la propiedad están protegidos por muchas leyes, específicamente en el estado de Florida.”

Doral en el futuro: una comunidad mixta

Cuando se haya completado Downtown Doral, será posible “apreciar la visión que nuestros oficiales electos han querido crear. Una comunidad mixta, donde coexisten diferentes tipos de desarrollos y las personas viven y trabajan a poca distancia y pueden ir caminando a todas partes.”

“En el futuro podrán ver, en la medida que se mejore el transporte y la conectividad, que tendremos áreas de Doral cercanas a estaciones de transporte público. En esas áreas habrá desarrollos orientados al tránsito, con puestos de estacionamiento, usos mixto, gran densidad habitacional, etc.”

“Mientras en el Noroeste de la ciudad la zona es más tradicional Euclidiana, con zonas residencial, comercial e industrial bien delimitadas, el resto de la ciudad corresponderá a una visión de uso mixto.”

Residentes y empresarios educados hacen la diferencia

“Todo se basa en la educación” dijo Pérez.

Su departamento constantemente organiza talleres y reuniones informativas para informar al público sobre los cambios que pueden afectarles. Recientemente presentaron a los residentes el proyecto de Re-designación del Doral Legacy Park como Área Verde en Rehabilitación, para poder aplicar al programa de desarrollo Brownfields. Esta resolución fue aprobada en la reunión de zonificación de Noviembre y será sometida a Segunda Discusión en Diciembre.

Habrá también una presentación sobre los Distritos Especiales Tributarios, el día 9 de Diciembre, para explicar las modificaciones propuestas en el Condado para este programa.

“Educar al público es uno de los retos más grandes que tengo como director” dice Pérez. “Para mi es la actividad más importante.”

“Invito a la comunidad a acercarse en primer lugar a nuestras oficinas en el Ayuntamiento con todas sus dudas y preocupaciones. Allí estamos para ayudarles. Desde la perspectiva de los residentes, es importante que vengan con la mente abierta, porque es probable que lo que escuchan sea muy diferente a lo que estaban acostumbrados.”
“Algo que queremos que todos sepan es que todo lo que aquí se realiza pasa por un proceso que está regulado por los Estatutos del Estado de Florida” concluyo Pérez.

El CMP y el código de desarrollo de terrenos ha superado todos los pasos legales y las audiencias públicas, donde a todo el mundo se le brinda la oportunidad de poder aportar sus ideas antes que el Concejo tome una decisión.

Los ciudadanos realmente interesados y comprometidos con el progreso de la ciudad deben tomarse el tiempo y hacer el esfuerzo de participar en estos talleres, reuniones y audiencias. Ser educados y estar informados; expresar sus opiniones oportunamente y con respeto, a través de canales verdaderamente efectivos. De esa manera podrán estar seguros que su visión será tomada en cuenta y reflejada en todos los planes presentes y futuros de la Ciudad.

LandUse_Sep_2015

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