Status Report as of March 18, 2021
On February 10, 2021, ATN asked the City Commission to schedule an agenda item on a consultant review of the Multimodal District Ordinance (MMDO). We requested that the commission direct staff to prepare an agenda item for the March 10 meeting regarding the consultant report and a plan for moving forward on its recommendations. The City Commission did not act at the February 10th meeting. Staff said they would look into this issue.
After the February 10 City Commission meeting, ATN proposed to Planning Department staff that work begin on the more straightforward problems identified by the consultant. Planning asked ATN to develop a draft list of issues. While ATN’s response is still being refined, below is the list of issues we have identified. After final edits, the Executive Committee will approve the letter for transmittal. Below is the list of issues:
- Resolve conflicts between Florida Department of Transportation and MMTD design standards. Many roads in the MMTD, such as Monroe, Thomasville, and Tennessee, are controlled by the State: When the State fails to meet the MMTD standards for street trees and wider sidewalks it creates major hurdles for making Tallahassee more walking and transit friendly.
- Require street trees between the back of curb and the sidewalk. This placement helps protect pedestrians from traffic. Currently, many developments are being approved with street trees in front of the development (i.e., on the wrong side of the sidewalk).
- Adopt street design guidelines that provide standards for tree species where there are overhead utility lines. This will avoid the severe pruning seen along our major roadways and create a consistent landscape along the street.
- Require the front of buildings to be at the same elevation as the sidewalk regardless of the slope. Buildings are then more directly oriented to pedestrians.
- Change “where feasible,” “where appropriate,” “is encouraged, “should,” or “may” to “shall.” The vague terms provide too many opportunities to challenge the standards and results in inconsistent development.
- Remove monument signs as allowed signage in the MMTD. Monument signs are appropriate along suburban streets, not streets designed for pedestrians.
- Define vague terms, such as “human scale.” The meaning of these terms are frequently questioned during site plan review.
District-wide Infrastructure Planning
- Develop a scope of work for a master stormwater plans for the MMTD. When stormwater ponds have to be located on each individual site, the land that is required results in a more suburban, less walkable environment. An area wide approach to stormwater management, where a number of projects can use the same pond, will result in more flexibility in site planning and have the potential to create an attractive amenity.
- Create standards to ensure that when it is necessary for a project to deviate from established standards, that the deviation supports the intent of the MMTD. This is especially true for the amount of parking allowed on site.
- Establish an MMTD Site Plan review team that is trained and committed to the principles and standards that are drafted for the MMTD district. Appoint a project manager to oversee the MMTD process. This will ensure more consistent implementation of the MMTD standards.