Property purchases for workforce housing in Islamorada and a rezoning for employee housing at the Florida Sea Base were among items receiving unanimous approval during the village council’s recent meeting.
Council members said “yes” to purchase property owned by Overseas Center LLC, located at MM 88.6 and zoned as residential single-family, for $850,000. The dais followed that up by approving the purchase of three single-family lots located near MM 88.6 on Overseas Highway for a price of $951,000.
Pursuing the vacant Overseas Center lot began in early April when village council directed Acting Village Manager Maria Basset and Village Attorney Roget Bryan to inquire about the owner’s selling interest. After confirming the owner’s intent to sell, the village proceeded to draft an agreement for the lot purchase with the plan to develop into affordable/workforce housing, pending allocation for BPAS units.
Purchase of the property will take it off the village’s vacant lot inventory for 2021, Bassett said.
While approving the agreement, Councilman Henry Rosenthal expressed some concerns over the process as far as the purchase not being contingent on an appraisal.
“I’m not prepared to vote against; it’s just a question how you go about these types of things,” he said. “I just thought there’d be a little more in-and-out and counter-proposals.”
Bassett said an agreement to purchase three single-family lots on Overseas Highway near MM 88.6 is contingent on an appraisal. The contract can be terminated if the seller isn’t willing to accept a lesser appraisal amount.
If purchased, Bassett said, the three lots would be added to the inventory for potential development for affordable/workforce housing, pending allocation of BPAS units.
Lot purchases were met with praise by residents Susan Raffanello and Linda Giordano, as both acknowledged more affordable housing opportunities in the village.
“It puts families in the neighborhood and not a commercial building. I applaud your leadership on this,” Giordano said.
Council members unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance to rezone Florida Sea Base property, located at MM 73.8, from a residential single-family to a residential duplex to allow for development of a duplex for employee housing. The property that’s currently vacant is approximately 10,000 square feet in size.
Keith Douglass, recently-retired facilities director and current consultant for the Sea Base, said the rezoning provides flexibility for employees who are or aren’t married.
“We’re really looking forward to continuing to improve the campus on Lower Matecumbe Key,” Douglass said. “We continue to bring an ocean of adventures to many scouts and leaders in years to come. The request simply allows us to build a duplex rather than single-family homes, which is different from homes on Wampler Way.”
In other matters, village council approved a change order pertaining to an agreement with Arbor Tree and Land Inc. for sediment removal from five residential canals on Lower Matecumbe Key. Per a report to council, more sediment needed removal than the original estimate of 4,930 cubic yards. The change includes an additional 6,001 cubic yards of sediment for removal. Nearly all additional sediment is located within Canal 157 (Sunset and Iroquois Drives) where Hurricane Irma impacts were most significant to canals on Lower Matecumbe.
Council members also unanimously approved a resolution to spend $129,945 for design and permitting work for improvements at Green Turtle Hammock Preserve. Property that was acquired by the Florida Communities Trust in 2006 and deeded to the village to maintain and provide amenities is in the third phase of enhancements. Remaining components include an ADA-compliant kayak launch and dock, improved access from the upland area to the waterfront, a pavilion/observation deck, a restroom and improved parking.