A proposal that would pave the way for a grocery store, a liquor store and housing at a dormant Tavernier concrete property will go before the Monroe County Planning Commission next month.
Specifically, the planning commission will consider a request from the developers that would change county development regulations to allow nonresidential development up to 70,000 square feet on the property located at MM 92.5, oceanside. Current county code only allows for 10,000 square feet of nonresidential floor area.
The county planning commission would recommend approval to the five Monroe County Commissioners, who would have the final say in the matter. If all the necessary approvals are garnered for the code change, developers would then need approval of a major conditional use request in order to proceed with constructing a 64,000-square-foot Publix. Developers are also looking to construct a liquor store and some 80 housing units for workers who make a majority of their income in Monroe County.
Property is still under the ownership of Cemex, but it’s under contract to be bought by the Blackstone Group – Tavernier 925, which consists of Andrew, Richard and John Toppino, Louis Perez and Mary Hurwitz.
The development’s magnitude and whether it fits the community character of a quiet and tranquil Tavernier remain large questions for concerned residents, as well as county staff. Cheryl Cioffari, assistant planning director, told the county Development Review Committee during a meeting last October that the developer must address questions about the project and its consistency with Tavernier’s community character and the Liveable CommuniKeys Master Plan, (LCP) which extends from MM 97 to Tavernier Creek Bridge.
The LCP aims to protect the environment, preserve historical elements in Tavernier and guide development in a manner that’s compatible with community goals. Under the plan’s community character element, goal three outlines a prohibition on designating new commercial land use districts in order to protect the existing viability of the U.S. 1 corridor area. It’s something Richard Barreto, member of the Tavernier Community Association, highlighted during an Aug. 23 community meeting.
County officials also sought a traffic study from the applicant to show what the project might do in an area that saw a new traffic light placed at U.S. 1 and Burton Drive heading into Harry Harris in early 2022. What once saw cars moving freely along the highway has now brought frequent stops and backups in order to allow motorists to come and go from the Harry Harris community.
A county calendar shows the next planning commission meeting on April 26 at Marathon Government Center at 10 a.m. The meeting will be a hybrid style, with attendance in person or via Zoom.
If the code change is approved, the developers would need to follow a similar process to obtain a major conditional use permit in order to construct the stores and housing. A community meeting, development review committee meeting and a planning commission meeting would take place to consider the proposal. However, the planning commission would ultimately give approval or disapproval on the use.