April 12, 2021
The PlanActive/Toole Design March 2019 assessment of the Multimodal Transportation District Ordinance (MMTDO) identified the following “big ideas” necessary to ensure the success of the MMTD district:
- Placement, location and species of landscape to protect pedestrian movement as the priority.
- Grading should never compromise the pedestrian accessibility and connection from the sidewalk to development.
- Sight distance review and evaluations should be consistent with the context of an area and not a general FDOT requirement along city roadways.
- Block standards that meet the context of the area(s) being regulated.
- A MMTD review team is created to help facilitate the goals and strategies of the MMTD. (Page 3)
ATN proposes that the City take action on the following consultant recommendations in the first phase of improving the effectives of the MMTDO:
1. Change “where feasible,” “where appropriate,” “is encouraged, “should,” or “may” to “shall.” Examples include standards for pedestrian access, vehicular access, and public frontages.
Analysis: The PA/TD report states: “Article IV Division 4 MMTD, uses a range of terms that provide too many opportunities to challenge and create unpredictability with both a review and end user of the standards. It is recommended that any “should” and “may” within the document are removed. Over 30% of the current standards provided in the MMTD are not required, they are recommendations. If it is the desire to regulate any of the guidance provisions, the wording will need to change to ensure compliance with the standard.“ (Page 5)
2. Define vague terms.
Analysis: The PA/TO reports states: “Terms that require “human scale” and “pedestrian scale” need definitions with standards. Without standards, these two terms will continue to be an issue during site plan review.” (Page 5)
3. Resolve conflicts between FDOT and MMTD design standards.
Analysis: The PA/TD report notes that 65% of the site plans submitted in 2016-2017 did not meet the streetscape requirements as outlined in the MMTDO. The predominate site not meeting the requirements were along State roadways (45% site plans). Sidewalk widths and tree placement have been the major causes of conflict. The report also notes that DOT has alternative standards that meet the intent of the MMTD that could be used for projects within the district. (Pages 6-7)
4. Use the nationally accepted ITE context-sensitive urban standards for public frontage requirements.
Analysis: The Institute of Transportation Engineers manual provides for four elements of public frontage, by context and roadway: frontage zone, walking zone, furnishing zone, and edge zone. Adhering to these standards will help ensure the goals and objectives of the MMTD are being met. (Page11)
5. Street trees must be placed between the back of curb and the sidewalk.
Analysis: The PA/TD report states: “Correct tree placement should remain a core principle in the development of a pedestrian walk zone. There can be flexibility in spacing and planting area width that maintains the pedestrian barrier and safety for the pedestrian. Flexibility may occur with extreme topographic challenges that inhibit the placement of a tree in the precise location, sight distance specifications that impede vision can also modify without removing trees. (Page 8)
6. Adopt street design guidelines that provide standards for tree species where there are overhead utility lines.
Analysis: These standards will eliminate the review of development on a case-by-case basis which degrades the intent of the MMTDO. (Pages 13 and 17)
7. Remove monument signs as allowed signage in the MMTDO.
Analysis: Monument signs are permitted along arterial roadways. This standard should not be permitted in the most urban areas within the MMTD. (Page 9)
8. Require development to meet the average grade of the adjacent sidewalks along the entire frontage, regardless of the slope.
Analysis: The PA/TO report states: “Buildings should always engage with the street within the MMTD area which requires meeting building standards (glazing, door placement) and eye level (site and grading). (Page 16)
9. Develop a scope of work for a master stormwater plans for the MMTD.
Analysis: The PA/TD notes that the MMTD regulations do not add any additional guidance to how to design storm water in an urban context. The MMTD defers to the underlying regulations for which creates issues with designing urban style development. It further notes that It is imperative for the City to develop urban design standards for stormwater that do not compromise the design of urban buildings and site areas. (Page 16)
10. Create a deviation process that outlines the permitted deviations within the MMTD.
Analysis: The PA/TD reports states that this will ensure the key categories and standards are not adversely impacting the overall objectives of that regulation. The report states “The overall deviation process predominantly supports the auto rather than the pedestrian. These modifications continue to erode the principals, intent, and strategies of the MMTD.” For example, the Magnolia Grove development is not a place where anyone eating at one of the restaurants would remain afterwards to stroll and visit with friends, or that those in the neighborhood or even the onsite hotel would walk to so as to enjoy the open space. ATN recommends that specific MMTD-oriented criteria be adopted for deviations to the parking standards and that more attention be given to the rationale for increases in building height and footprint. While deviations are also being addressed separately, they are an important concern specifically in relation to the MMTD. (Pages 3 and 17)
11. 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.
Analysis: The PA/TD recommends that team members should include: Land Use Planning; Growth Management, Engineering, and Underground Utilities and Public Infrastructure. In addition, the project manager should be given the authority to interpret the code and provide guidance to the review team when conflicts occur. (Page 17)
ATN urges the City to Implement these 11 consultant recommendations without further delay. These issues were of concern as far back as 2016, and with the pace of growth, have accelerated since that time. Because the Multi-Modal Transportation District is so expansive, improving the implementation of the MMTO will make a noticeable improvement city-wide.