The Miami Herald recently published an article about a Village of Pinecrest council meeting. In this meeting, the idea of studying the possibility of limiting McMansions on smaller lots was proposed. On the face of it, this is a reasonable thing to consider. If you look at the Village of Pinecrest and it's general layout you find that the community is bordered along it's western edge with a large concentration of smaller lot sizes and a general higher density than you would find in areas further east within the community. What this writer found irksome is the notion that the true character of The Village of Pinecrest is that of small ranch houses on large lots and that by considering further setbacks on the sides and frontage of all properties, you would effectively protect that character or extend the small home limit to larger lots.
The Pinecrest McMansion debate is an old one dating back well prior to the incorporation of Pinecrest as a city. Within the Herald article some comments were given regarding homes that are close to if not possibly in excess of 20,000 square feet as part of the reasoning or perhaps impetus to drive the conversation of "character preservation". The article also goes on to mention that the average size home being built today in the community is 8,500 square feet.
This author grew up in Pinecrest. He went to Pinecrest Elementary, Palmetto Junior and Palmetto Senior high and has remained a Miami-Dade County resident regularly bringing persons interested in the lifestyle that the Village of Pinecrest offers. He watched this area grow and transform. Pinecrest lifestyle is NOT characterized by small ranch houses on large lots. It is characterized by luxury estate homes and mansions on large lots that are spacious, private and within easy reach of great education, shopping, dining and transport. It's a place where successful people have come for decades to raise their children and generally enjoy a more open, spacious, friendly and secure lifestyle. I would not characterize it as Pinecrest McMansions.
Also, the idea that because the village of Pinecrest is doing well enough in terms of it's tax revenue collection as a further reason to halt or stop the development of larger homes is self serving and ignores the very people buying and already living in the community. It's a cart before the horse mentality. It's healthy to debate growth management and the character of a community but in many ways the article implied that the current administration has a dislike of what Pinecrest continues evolving into versus what it was imagined to have once been.
The author can say from personal experience that the 1960's image of Pinecrest as large lots with small ranch houses probably ended the moment the notion came to mind. Actually, it most likely ended somewhere in the early 70's where various groups of individuals started building spec houses and custom homes for executives on a regular basis. I would go so far as to say that Pinecrest McMansions (estate homes and mansions) have been in full swing conservatively for some 40 years.
If the conversation of building limits goes ahead, I would hope that the Village of Pinecrest consider some of the initiatives implemented many years ago by the Village of Key Biscayne as it relates to setback, building credit for open spaces and other measures to allow homeowners the ability to build great places to live that do not mar or blight a neighborhood by overwhelming it with concrete. Key Biscayne unlike Pinecrest, has the reverse issue. A greater number of smaller lots averaging 7500 square feet (Mackle Homes) with larger lots along canals and the bay front making up a smaller percentage.
To limit what a person can do on their 3/4 acre, acre or multi-acre property on the basis of a community character that does not take into account what currently exists and has always existed is unrealistic at best and would call into question how in-touch the communities leadership is to it's constituents. Again, this author is all for reasonable planning and dialog on the issue of density in those areas within the community where it is merited. Growth management is not only important but a key ingredient to maintaining a communities value both in terms of dollars and cents but also it's intrinsic value as a community.