By: María Alejandra Pulgar for the Doral Family Journal
A group of citizens, composed mainly by longtime residents in the Doral area, approached the City Clerk to submit an ordinance proposal, regarding the creation of public zoning meeting workshops as a requirement for future large projects. This would allow residents to be informed, ask questions to the developers and voice their opinions about the projects prior to their inclusion in zoning meeting agendas.
Now that the proposal has been submitted, the City Attorney has 20 days to review and approve it. Once that happens, the ordinance committee will have to collect between 1700 and 2000 signatures of residents interested in approving the ordinance and then it can be voted for final approval and inclusion in the code. Similar ordinances exist in other municipalities.
“This Ordinance will provide residents with the ability to have greater participation in issues that affect their quality of life. Over the past few years the Council was approached numerous times by developers seeking approvals for rezoning and amendments to the master plan which are moving the city towards a highly populated and dense 15 square mile area. This was not the original vision for the City” explained Claudia Spangaro-Mariaca, member of the Ordinance Committee that submitted the proposal, which is composed by more than 30 members.
Among the Committee members are Linda Scott, Jesse Jones, Norberto Spangaro, Michael Wermuth, Gabriel Rodriguez, Alberto Ruiz, Carlos Mariaca and Juan Carlos Bermudez. These are people who were involved in the creation of a vision for the Doral area long before incorporation, and since then they have consistently participated, attended meetings and voiced their opinions on the decisions that are being taken at City Hall. For those recently arrived in the area, Mr. Bermudez was the First Mayor of the City of Doral upon incorporation in 2003 until 2011.
If the proposed ordinance is approved, the cases that will require mandatory workshops are: Rezoning; Site plan approvals; Site plan amendments that seek to develop additional square footage; Variances; Unusual uses and any other application deemed necessary by the City Manager.
According to the ordinance, workshops should have to be advertised in local newspapers at least five days prior and meetings should take place after 6:00pm in places convenient to allow public attendance.
The group of residents who are proposing the ordinance would like to see many more new faces interested in the future of Doral. The approval of this ordinance for public zoning workshops will give general public more chances to form an educated opinion on zoning changes in an open forum, before the formal discussions that take place within a zoning meeting.