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Stuart City Commission extends pause on certain multifamily projects only for downtown area

NewsStuart City Commission extends pause on certain multifamily projects only for downtown area

STUART — One of two development codes related to multifamily housing will remain unchanged after the evaluation of both prompted a three-month pause on certain projects.

One code, allowing projects of up to 30 units per acre with City Commission approval, will stay as is. The commission Monday allowed the pause, formally known as a “zoning in progress,” to expire. It had frozen certain developments while the city received public input through workshops.

Analysis of the codes, approved unanimously in October, was prompted by an influx of multifamily housing developments over the past four years, causing residents to voice concerns of too much growth.

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The pause included review of a code that allows units smaller than 900 square feet to be counted as a half unit, and those smaller than 1,100 square feet to be counted as three-quarters of a unit in the Urban District, which mostly encompasses the downtown area. The commission voted 4-1 to continue evaluating this code for three more months.

Commissioner Christopher Collins, who pushed the initiative forward after winning the Group 3 seat in August in a slow-growth campaign, was the lone dissenter. He wanted the evaluation of both codes to be extended, specifically to discuss parking, he said.

At the latest workshop on Thursday, Collins proposed imposing a development fee to fund a city parking garage, in exchange for a reduction in the required amount of parking.

“This is crazy to me,” Collins said. “Why not continue both of these parameters just for the three months, and then we can move forward with what our recommendations are and what our changes are? Why cut it in half?”

Collins asked Commissioner Eula Clarke, who made the motion to continue evaluating only one of the two codes, to amend her motion to include both. Clark thought there was no need to continue the pause on projects outside of the Urban District and downtown area, she said.

“I think that we should continue just doing what we need to do for the rest of the city,” Clarke said.

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