KEY WEST, FL – The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners held their monthly meeting Aug. 15, 2018 at the Harvey Government Center in Key West. Here are some highlights:
APPROVED MOVING FORWARD ON CHANGING LAND-USE REGULATIONS FOR UNPLATTED LOTS
The Commission approved moving forward to amend the County’s 2015 Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code to allow building permits for lots that are not platted but meet specific conditions. Those conditions include being a tier 3 property; accessible to electric, water/sewer utilities and paved roads; parcel boundary is current and evidence is available the boundary was in place before 1986; and there is no other purpose on the plat.
The text amendment process to both the Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code likely will take a year to complete. The process includes a community meeting; Development Review Committee public meeting; Planning Commission public hearing; BOCC public hearing to transmit proposed Comp Plan amendment to the State Department of Economic Opportunity for review and BOCC public hearing to adopt both amendments.
APPROVED MASTER PLAN UPDATE FOR KEY WEST INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
The Commission approved the Key West International Airport Master Plan Update, a comprehensive study of the airport. The last one was completed in 2003. The Master Plan Update provides the short-, medium- and long-term development plans to meet future aviation needs. It is available for review on the County website at www.monroecounty-fl.gov/Airports.
Key West International Airport is expecting passenger traffic to increase at an average growth rate of 2.4 percent annually over the next 20 years. It is expected that in 2035, the airport will be at or near capacity with 1.1 to 1.2 million passengers per year. For 2018, the airport is expecting 750,000 to 800,000 passengers, Airports Acting Director T.J. Henderson told the Commission.
This update includes plans for a terminal expansion project in the 6-10 year timeframe. The terminal expansion will complement the new terminal that was built a few years ago. The expansion will include a new departure lounge, with more space for passengers and concessions, and new connections to jet bridges that will increase passenger safety.
Future projects in the Master Plan Update also will continue the airport’s commitment to account for sea level rise. The recent runway improvement project elevated the runway by 6 inches.
The public airport is owned and operated by Monroe County. The Master Plan update included three technical review committee meetings, followed by three public hearings. The Commission-approved, updated Master Plan now will be sent to the Federal Aviation Administration for approval and subsequent implementation.
APPROVED DEBRIS CLEARING FROM PUBLIC AND PRIVATE PROPERTY TO MITIGATE RISK OF FIRE
The Commission heard a presentation from Florida’s Division of State Forestry regarding the need to remove the accumulating dead vegetation (which has built up due to Hurricane Irma) to mitigate the risk of wild fires in the Big Pine Key and nearby areas. The County already has experienced such a wild fire on April 22, 2018 on Big Pine Key. The fire spread quickly and burned 72 acres and one home. Ten agencies fought the fire for more than a week.
The Commission approved a resolution that authorizes County staff to take appropriate steps to remove the debris from public and private property in coordination with federal, state and local agencies.
County fire officials met today with the Division of State Forestry and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the effort to remove debris and create fire breaks that can stop or slow the progression of a fire.
AUTHORIZED STAFF TO RESEARCH INSTALLING SPLASH PADS AT BERNSTEIN AND BIG PINE PARKS
The Commission authorized County staff to research the cost, risks and feasibility of installing water splash pads at two of its County parks that are well used by children: Bernstein Park on Stock Island and Big Pine Key Community Park.
HEARD REPORT BY MARINE SANCTUARY SUPERINTENDENT ON CURRENT THREAT TO CORAL REEF
The Commission heard a presentation by Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent Sarah Fangman on the multi-year outbreak of a coral disease that is threatening Florida’s coral reef. The tissue loss disease for hard corals is unprecedented in geographic range, extended duration, rapid progression and high rates of mortality.
The situation poses a serious threat to the economy of Monroe County. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are leading the effort to address the outbreak that now encompasses three-quarters of the Florida Reef Tract, south to the Lower Keys.
Information about this outbreak and what you can do to help is available on the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary website: https://floridakeys.noaa.gov/coral-disease.