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Article which appeared in the Upper Keys Reporter


Commission to discuss building permit


BY ANN HENSON - 5-19-2003

Staff Writer, Upper Keys Reporter


A concept to raise money for affordable housing and to buy sensitive lands will be discussed at next week's County Commission meeting.

Commissioner Murray Nelson, who came up with the idea, said he will discuss the matter briefly at the Key Largo meeting. Nelson suggested creating a sliding scale building permit fee for the home size and lot size of those who wish to build. That fee would come to $5 per square foot of enclosed space and $2.50 per square foot of lot size for those wishing to build in Tier 3 areas.

The fee would be more costly in Tier 2 areas, with $7.50 per square foot for building size and $3.75 per square foot of land. In Tier 1, the figure jumps to $12.50 and $6.25, respectively. The building of affordable housing would be exempt. "Instead of giving negative points against the property in sensitive areas and people buy up property to donate, you pay a fee that goes to the Monroe County Land Authority," he said. The Land Authority would use the funds to purchase sensitive areas with hammock and property the county is required to buy because it will not let property owners build there. The fee could generate more than $5 million per year if 150 houses were built in Tier 3 areas, where building is preferred. The Upper Keys alone has 1,000 Tier 3 lots, according to the county's Planning Department.

To figure out how much this will impact a homebuilder, Nelson looked at the third quarter Rate of Growth Ordinance applications for the Upper Keys to determine the average lot size at 8,933 square feet and average house size at
2,394 square feet .

Using those numbers, the fee would add an average of $34,302 to the cost of building a home in a Tier 3 area. The average cost for building in Tier 2 areas would increase to $50,453 per house and in Tier 1, the fee adds an extra $85,756 per home.

The county's Planning Commission is recommending a two-year moratorium on building in Tier 1 and 2 areas. And Nelson said if people owning lots in those two tiers offer them to the county, the county must purchase the properties due to property takings laws. But where will the money come from? 

The Land Authority has about $77,000 left from an $8 million fund earmarked for purchasing sensitive property.

Once that money is gone, Nelson would rather take it from the deep pockets" of those willing to pay any price to build here rather than placing the burden on existing taxpayers. "I don't want to expose the taxpayers to this situation," he said. Nelson said that land is the Keys' only commodity and we should charge accordingly.

'If the value of property goes up, so does the fee."

The state should also kick in money, since it is directing the county to purchase private property, he said.

To that end, Nelson will discuss another item, this one on the board's agenda.

He said he is going to Tallahassee to meet with officials from the Florida Department of Community Affairs and state Rep. Ken Sorensen, along with Land Authority Director Mark Rosch, to discuss the Florida Communities Trust Fund.

Nelson said Monroe County should be given preference for the state's $66 million in funds available this year for its buy-land directive.

Ann Henson covers state and Monroe County government, environment, Key Largo and is the editor of the Reporter's website. She can be reached at 852-3216 or by e-mail at amhenson©


Related Links


1. Resolution No. P26-03 - Possible two years building moratorium on Center Island and elsewhere for unincorporated parts of Monroe County Keys. pages 1 and 2, pages 3 and 4

Tim McGerry, Director of Growth Management - letter to Mayor Spehar on Duck Key and Tier System

News article in the Keynoter - 6/7/2003- Commission to consider partial moratorium with July deadline for complying with Keys capacity study - moratorium would apply only to unincorporated parts of Monroe County

News article in Key West Citizen -

Commissioner David Rice, "I am a bit uncomfortable initially telling everyone in Tier 2 that they are part of this moratorium with no appeals process."

Commissioner Nugent concerned about lawsuits from property owners, or were length and scope

Mayor Spehar hesitant to ban building on such a broad basis, and suggests duration of moratorium could be too long.


Draft of Tier System and Regulatory Changes  - dated 4-16-2003 - page 1

Draft of Tier System and Regulatory Changes  - dated 4-16-2003 - page 2

Draft of Tier System and Regulatory Changes  - dated 4-16-2003 - page 3




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