Protecting the Keys with neotraditional design
ROBERT STEUTEVILLE    MAY. 1, 1998
The Florida Keys, a 150-mile-long chain of tiny islands at the southernmost tip of the state, were under such development pressure in the early 1990s that the county placed strict limits on growth through the year 2002. Developers held vested rights to build 14,000 lots, enough to virtually cover the islands with auto-oriented suburban sprawl. The county slowed growth to a maximum of 225 units per year, and hired Correa Valle Valle Town Planners of Miami to study growth patterns and how they could be improved. After two years of study, the firm helped the county to draft a Traditional Village Ordinance based primarily on protecting the environment and character of the Keys. The ordinance was approved in 1997, but the county is still figuring out how best to implement it. The ordinance encourages the development of settlements (from 10 to 15 acres), hamlets (from 16 to 25 acres) and villages (from 26 to 80 acres). These increments are designed to restore patterns of pedestrian-oriented, sustainable development that existed prior to 1940. Developments are approved in the form of traditional village districts (TVDs), designed publicly in charrettes. No less than 50 percent of a TVD must be preserved in natural and restored open space.