July 24, 2014

Heads Up

Big Mac Attack

Martha Brannigan | 8/1/2005
HEADS UP: Big Mac Attack

Coral Gables is taking aim at "McMansions," the giant new homes that have been sprouting up -- a bit too conspicuously -- on small lots.

Spurred by a chorus of complaints from residents who say the character and charm of the city are being ruined, the Coral Gables City Commission passed an interim ordinance to discourage them. The move reduces the allowable square footage of floor area and encourages better setbacks, lower heights and other aesthetic measures. Concerned residents, including Daniel Fryer, call the interim ordinance a start, albeit "a weak one."

The homes have proliferated as south Florida land prices soar and empty lo ts vanish. Many builders are bulldozing homes and replacing them with mansions that stick out like a sore thumb, residents complain. Similar concerns echo elsewhere, including the Victoria Park section of Fort Lauderdale and areas of Miami Beach.

Opponents say it's not just the design of the homes, but their volume and inadequate setbacks that make them eyesores that overshadow neighbors, blocking sunlight and breezes.

Defining a McMansion, Coral Gables planning and zoning board member Michael Tein borrowed a term former Associate Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart applied to pornography: "I know it when I see it."

Tags: Miami-Dade, Housing/Construction

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