Development proposal set for old park on Little Torch

By Steve Estes

After lying fallow for nearly six years, a new redevelopment plan for the old Lucky’s Landing mobile home park on Little Torch Key has arisen.

A group calling itself Little Pam Cottages LLC has applied for a conditional use permit on the five-acre tract to allow the development of 24 duplex units, along with a new swimming pool and renovated docking facilities.

The developers already have a determination from the county planning department that 48 units existed on the site prior to a failed redevelopment proposal in 2007.

Under that older proposal, developers planned to build waterfront, attached wall condo units and 13 affordable housing units. Anytime a mobile home park is redeveloped, 30 percent of the existing units must be rebuilt as affordable housing under the county’s inclusionary housing rules. That rule is an attempt to protect affordable housing in what is still the state’s most expensive housing area.

In 2007, the county approved a rezoning of the land from urban residential mobile home to mixed use commercial with a future land use designation of residential high.

According to planning staff, the current development proposal would fit into that designation as a minor conditional use.

But the staff report, heard Tuesday at the Development Review Committee, says that the new development proposal does not meet the inclusionary housing requirements in that none of the proposed units to be built on site are designated as affordable housing.

Instead, states the staff report, the developer is asking the county to reserve 14 affordable housing allocations that the company can use at other locations in the Keys rather than including them at the old Lucky’s Landing site.

According to the application, all the units would be built, with 14 set aside for affordable units, but that the affordability designation be lifted to a market rate allocation once the company finds sites elsewhere for the 14 affordable homes.

That plan, which the company is requesting 15 years to complete, is not something contemplated by the inclusionary housing ordinance and will require approval from the Board of County Commissioners at a future date.

The staff report also points out that a more complete site plan must be filed prior to building permit application that guarantees the heights of the duplex units would be under the county’s maximum of 35 feet.

The plans on file now show the buildings at 34 feet 10 inches but the county’s rules require height to be measured from the crown of the adjoining road.

The staff report determines that additional traffic caused by the 48 residential units will not degrade the traffic level of service in the region even though the Big Pine segment is always on the low end of the traffic concurrency scale in the county.

Staff has recommended approval of the project, a recommendation that will go to the county planning commission next month, with a few caveats.

First, the building height will have to meet current standards and be no more than 35 feet from the crown of Barry Ave.

The developer will also have to show 14 units of affordable housing on site or get a separate approval from the BOCC to develop those units off site in the future.

A similar conversation took place last week during a special BOCC meeting considering a proposed commercial shopping center project on Rockland Key.

Commissioners demanded from those developers that the site have access to 50 affordable housing units to handle the anticipated workforce that will need housing once the center opens.

The Rockland developers balked at the idea of building 50 housing units on the site and instead asked that they be given time to find those units at other locations with general access to the commercial center.

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