Let’s talk roads and homes in Monroe County

February 7 – While the Keys is like living in paradise, it’s also constrained by the fact that it’s surrounded by water and land is limited.

Emily Schemper, Senior Director of Planning and Environmental Resources for Monroe County, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about issues facing the county.

A number of residents have been asking about traffic flow and housing development.

Schemper said, “There are two ways that we review and account for traffic in the Keys.”

One is a concurrency review, which is a day to day look at traffic on US 1. The county has adopted into the comprehensive plan a level of service standard for US 1.

Schemper said, “It looks at the speed at which people travel up and down US 1, all the way from Key Largo to Key West. It also looks at that overall speed. How fast can you get basically from Key Largo to Key West?”

It also narrows down specific portions of the roadway as well.

Next week, the county commission will direct the traffic consultant to complete the Arterial Travel Time and Delay Study, which happens every two years.

Schemper said, “They check to see if the roadway is meeting that adopted level of service and then based on that, they make a prediction of how many more cars could be on the road until we drop below the least acceptable level of service.”

That will likely be completed and adopted in the early fall.

Schemper explained, “We review every individual development proposal against that study and against the remaining capacity. They have to tell us how many cars are they putting on the road with this new retail store and we look and see can the segment handle it? Can the surrounding segments handle it and can the entire roadway handle it?”

The Rate of Growth Ordinance housing units were determined by the state in 2013 and it’s based on hurricane evacuation traffic modeling.

Schemper said, “Every time a census comes out, they look do a hurricane evacuation modeling task and they see if all of the permanent residents within the Keys can get evacuate within a 24 hour window because Florida statute requires permanent residents be able to get out within a 24 hour window.”

Emergency Management determines when that 24 hour window is called.

Schemper said, “If you see developments still occurring, that’s all based on the units that were given to us in 2013 by the state. The county has about 200 left. Those will be all given out between now and the summer of 2026 and we hope the state’s running a new model now. We’re waiting for those results and we may or may not get more units, but last time they said we were at capacity.”

A community meeting about accessory usage on land parcels will be held at 5:30 p.m. tonight on Zoom.

Schemper said, “It’s a proposed text amendment. The board discussed it last year where lots that are otherwise vacant, but don’t have a permit for a house, opening it up so that they could use that property for some type of use, whether it’s a dock if it’s on a canal or if it’s just parking or garages and shed are in there. The possibility of pools. We have a whole list of uses and we want to get community input on each one so we kind of know how to move forward with this proposed amendment. It will then go to all the public meetings and public hearings, but this is the first community meeting for input.”

For more information on the community meeting, click here: https://www.monroecounty-fl.gov/calendar.aspx?view=list&year=2023&month=2&day=7&CID=68,14,71,72,30,67,22,84,31,23,73,74,75,29,59,21,76,77,78,79,25,26,80,55,24,81,54,82,87