Reversing Course on Building Height

Folks back in 2002 when Cocoa Beach voted for height restrictions, I voted for it! Yes that’s right; as a REALTOR, I thought that it was the best thing for Cocoa Beach but I did not do my homework then and did not realize the long-term effects of the combination of the specifics of the restrictions of reducing the height, defining an absolute height without accommodation for rooftop utilities, and tying the measurement from the crown of the road” etc. You cannot even build a 4-story building with these restrictions – which is what most of us thought we were voting for. The combination of these restrictions is killing our tax base, the evidence is clear. FEMA has changed the rules with respect to flood risk in coastal cities, so now you can’t build on the first floor and that it must be a higher wash thru in flood zones. So with changes in FEMA’s regulations, as well as acceptable building standards, we must change. Ben, myself, and others do NOT want high rises, but just some room for some decent mid-rise development where it’s appropriate — not throughout the City.

There is nothing wrong with a 4 story condo above its garage on the vacant lot where the Bithlonians trash the beach (The Ocean Dunes project – Next to Boardwalk). I would love to see the International Palms transformed into something nicer and a bit more upscale (Lord knows we have enough cheaper hotels). There has been 2 buildings that received variances to go above 45 feet, the Fire Department and the Performing Arts Center at the school. Go take a look at those buildings and tell me if they are ugly or too high? But the variance process is not a viable avenue for any project than public use buildings, it’s a ridiculously restrictive process.

Before you make your mind up, get all the facts, don’t rely on the doom and gloomer’s propaganda and fear mongering about Miami – that ain’t gonna happen. Just because you adjust the rules after 15 years doesn’t mean you keep adjusting them higher and higher. Remember back in 2012 when Mixed Use was on the ballot, well 5 years later we have 3 buildings who have put residences above their commercial. I don’t want 10 story plus buildings but if it somewhere in between the 45 feet and six stories makes sense then let’s do it. When you replace a trashed lot with a 25 unit residence you increase your tax base and improve Cocoa Beach not hurt it.

Steve Romano, Wake Up Cocoa Beach


3 Comments Leave a comment

  1. feeder1 December 7, 2017

    While lifting the height ban will increase the tax base, it will also increase demand on municipal service, so it won’t be a cash cow to anyone but the developers. The increase of traffic congestion will make gridlock worse.

  2. bcostleigh December 13, 2017

    Steve, and I will call you by you first name because I know you have done a good amount for our city. I want to begin by commending you on what you have done for the city. But now, I do wish to comment on your “changing view”. For starters, from what I see, people know who you are and what you have done for the city. So to start out your commentary by referring to yourself as the administrator of the the wildly popular website instantly tells me that you are trying to build your credentials to give clout to your changing views. Which signals to me that there may be more negative than good in getting the building height increased. Next, as a realtor, you need to let people know that you have NO skin in game for getting the building height changed. If you have significant earning potential such as, you know you will get the contract for selling units, you will be seen no different than the developers and your opinion is tainted. Up and down the east coast, many towns and cities go through the same discussions so this is nothing ground breaking for Cocoa Beach. I am a hard core conservative capitalist so I fully understand he developers point of view. I am also a person who wants to keep the area from over development. I don’t care what any developer says, they are not there to benefit the city as There primary objective. The developers are there for one thing. To maximize there potential profit. If there is and perceived benefit to the city, they will ram that benefit until the day the cows come home. Mr. Hermansen answers first to his partners and investors. Period. Properties in Cocoa Beach can be developed under the current building rules. I renovated my house under the current building rules. So can developers. It just means that they will not make as much money but a sure as I am here typing, developers WILL make money developing under the current rules. There are plentiful ways to develop, make money and not change the motif of the city. You can’t refer to city hall and the fire department etc as a good reason to change the building height as they are for city services and not for individual profiteers. Once you raise the building height for developers such as to the 4-7 stories as Mr. Hermansen alluded to, Pandora’s box will be opened. More importantly, when Mr. Hermansen referred to 4-7 stories, he was referring to 7 stories, not 4, 5 or 6. And if he got 7 stories, he will try for 8 next. I don’t blame him or have I’ll will towards him because that is his job. It is my job to day no. There are other ways to enhance our tax base other than building up. In fact, our tax base is NOT getting killed because of the building restrictions. We still have the same buildings and more than previously. Since I bought my house on 2008, I have seen quite a few big ole ocean front homes being built among other homes being built, all of which gives more tax base. When I renovated my home, the “new” house was not grandfathered from limiting the yearly tax increase through the homestead, only the land was. I am an individual resident who added $3000 per year to the tax base by renovating my house. So the tax base is there. people just want more more more tax money to spend. Yes FEMA and the gang has strict rules for building. Similar rules are up and down the cost of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Right up to Maine. Everyone needs to deal with the potential flooding. The building limits above base flood elevation and hurricane readiness is designed to help limit the payout by the federal government after natural disasters. Hence, theoretically, we all save money and that money can go to other services. But wait, we know that won’t happen. The government just wants more tax money. If developers and yourself really want to push hard to raise the building height, do something that may make more common sense. If the property you wish to develop has taller buildings immediately on both sides, then you can build as high as those buildings. This won’t change the overall landscape and won’t expand the locale of the higher buildings. If there is not taller building on both side, too bad, you deal with the current rules just as everyone else needs to. Or maybe go up just a little at a time and limit floors. Ie. You say you can’t even get 4 stories above a garage, and that is reasonable. Well, I personally don’t find that reasonable. How about saying, under building parking plus 3 stories. Or suggest changing the building rules to measure height beginning at the FEMA base flood elevation rather than from the crest of the road. This makes more common sense to me. I can go on for another 5 pages but time for me to pull a motor out of my race car. And I apologize for any poor grammar. And again, thanks for what you have done for the city. Brian Costleigh.

  3. glomarrone December 16, 2017

    I attended the Charter Review committee Meeting at City Hall. Many speakers addressed the issue just as you have. I totally agree with you. We need to let developers build somewhat higher buildings – not high rise. No one at the meeting wanted that. Mid-Rise is a good compromise. There are too many empty parcels of land and stores. We need to do something different. I was for density & height restrictions years ago but no longer. We need to have a definite idea of how high & how dense, though before we remove the restrictions. I did send an email to the committee about my thoughts. Higher commercial buildings do not automatically mean more traffic.

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