Coral Springs has decided to extend a pilot program that was introduced to expedite approvals for projects, thereby stimulating economic development.
The program, which was introduced in September 2013 primarily to promote redevelopment, was extended for a year in October last year. The program is now being expanded to cover new projects as well.
The program is now being expanded to cover new projects as well. Some of the businesses that have benefited from the program are Gyromania Restaurant, which sought additional outdoor seating; Panacea Prep Charter School, which opened at an existing charter school location within a place of worship; and Lucky’s Market, which wanted to reduce the amount of off-street parking.
The program provides businesses with a chance to get projects approved by the city in less than a month; the normal turnaround time is about three months. Final approval for special exceptions, variances and conditional uses is normally given by the City Commission, but under the program, applications are considered by a committee appointed by the city manager at a much lesser cost.
Ten of the 11 projects considered by the committee were approved, Jim Hickey, assistant director of development services, said at a recent City Commission meeting. The average cost savings to a business owner was $2,300. The program has been really beneficial for small businesses, he added.
Plat waivers earlier required commission approval but will now come under the purview of the program committee. Special exceptions for Dumpster enclosures, master parking encroachments, amendments to master signs and applications related to fencing and landscaping, too, will be considered under the program. If the staff committee does not approve the request, the petitioner can go through the normal process.
Targeted industries will also now come under the scope of the expanded program, Hickey said. “We have seen some developments coming in, especially in the Corporate Park, that are looking to do things on a quicker time frame. We also want to recommend increasing the variance (from the code) from 10 percent to 33 percent; that will give us a little more flexibility.”
Many cities in the country, including Plantation, Leesburg, those in Martin County and in Las Vegas, have already introduced similar programs to spur economic development. Encouraged by the results of its pilot, Plantation made the program a permanent part of its land-development code in 2010. Coral Springs is also planning to include the program in its code after the pilot expires next year.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Commissioner Dan Daley. “To see the program go through its different evolutions to come to this point, I want to thank staff for being open minded. It clearly works, and I am excited to see it move forward again.”