KEY LARGO, FL – The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners held its monthly meeting Wednesday at the Murray Nelson Government & Cultural Center in Key Largo. Here are some of the highlights:
COMMISSION DIRECTS COUNTY STAFF ON STATE’S OFFER OF 300 ADDITIONAL WORKFORCE HOUSING ROGO ALLOCATIONS FOR UNINCORPORATED MONROE COUNTY
The State of Florida Administrative Commission earlier approved the Keys Workforce Housing Initiative that allows up to 1,300 additional affordable workforce housing Rate of Growth Ordinance allocations for rental workforce housing. Of the 1,300, up to 300 are available for unincorporated Monroe County.
All come with a condition that developments that receive these ROGO allocations have a rental management agreement in place that require rental occupants to evacuate in the early phase of 48 hours in advance of tropical storm winds reaching the Florida Keys.
After a long discussion, the County Commission directed planning staff to draft proposed policy alternatives to the state’s initiative that address several concerns raised related to the enforceability of the evacuation provisions.
The County Commission also asked the County Attorney to research whether the state’s Florida Keys Workforce Housing Initiative, which, if implemented, would create a precedent that would require the state to award as many as 10,000 additional units in the future. The state has justified the 1,300 additional housing allocations because there is a 6 ½-hour window available to handle more Phase 1 evacuations under the current evacuation model in the Keys. Based on the evacuation model, the capacity of that 6 ½ -hour window is about 10,000.
The County Commissioners all agreed that there are many questions to be answered before they can consider accepting any additional ROGO allocations under the state’s initiative.
APPROVED PUBLIC HEARING REGARDING EXEMPTION OF AFTER-THE-FACT DEMOLITION PERMIT FEES
The Commission approved advertising a Public Hearing to consider an ordinance that would amend the code to allow County staff to exempt after-the-fact demolition permit fees for structures substantially damaged, destroyed, major damaged or minor damaged by Hurricane Irma. The Commission will also consider at that hearing refunding such fees that have already been paid.
Demolition permits are required for safety reasons, with inspections ensuring that utilities have been disconnected appropriately.
APPROVED ENTERING INTO A STORM AND SEA LEVEL RISE VULNERABILITY STUDY WITH THE U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
The Commission approved a 3-year, $3 million study, paid for by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, that will investigate storm and sea level rise vulnerability for the U.S. 1 corridor and other vulnerable areas in Monroe County.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will partner with the County’s sustainability office and other stakeholders on the study. The end product will have a Feasibility Report to include National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation, which may authorize new federal for construction focused on protecting the U.S. 1 corridor in Monroe County. These projects can be nature-based features.
APPROVED A FITNESS CIRCUIT TRAINING COURT FOR BERNSTEIN PARK ON STOCK ISLAND
The Commission approved the purchase of a $78,450 unique fitness circuit training court for the newly renovated Bernstein Park on Stock Island. The fitness court is manufactured by the National Fitness Campaign.
The circuit equipment has minimal moving parts by utilizing body weight for resistance and can accommodate up to 28 users at a time. The circuit court is suited for people of all ages.
APPROVED PURCHASE OF KEYNOTER BUILDING IN MARATHON
The Commission approved a contract to purchase a property known as the Keynoter building along U.S. 1 in Marathon for $750,000. The building is contiguous with the current County-owned property on which is located a Sheriff sub-station, the Tax Collector’s office and the Marathon Courthouse.
Assistant County Administrator Kevin Wilson told the Commission that the building would likely house the Tax Collector – and either the Public Defender office or the State Attorney office, which currently occupy the same rental building.
Hurricane Irma caused damaged to the current Tax Collector’s office in Marathon, and the people in that office need to be moved in order to make the repairs.
The County is responsible for facilities to house all these public entities.
APPROVED $5.9 MILLION GRANT AGREEMENT WITH STATE FOR NEW EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER
The Commission approved a new $5.9 million grant agreement with the Florida Division of Emergency Management to receive state funds for the design and some construction of a new Emergency Operations Center. The EOC will cost about $22 million and will be paid for with a variety of non-local funding. The County currently uses the Marathon Government Center BOCC chambers as its makeshift EOC in times of emergency.
Photo of Monroe County Firefighters (IAFF Local 3909) presented each County Commissioner with a large, commemorative plaque in recognition of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Irma. The firefighters who participated in the emergency response signed the plaques.