January 9, 2019

Islamorada, Village of Islands
A draft outline for a proposed 'Morada Arts Business District' on Upper Matecumbe Key is scheduled for discussion  by Islamorada Village Council members at their Jan. 10 meeting at Founders Park.

Islamorada, Village of Islands A draft outline for a proposed 'Morada Arts Business District' on Upper Matecumbe Key is scheduled for discussion  by Islamorada Village Council members at their Jan. 10 meeting at Founders Park.

ISLAMORADA — A discussion of a large “arts and business district” overseen by municipal officials leads the Thursday, Jan. 10, agenda of the Islamorada Village Council.

As outlined by village staff, the “Morada Arts Business District” eventually could establish “a recognized, delineated and marketable downtown business district that encompasses an area on Upper Matecumbe Key that has historically been recognized as downtown Islamorada.”

Islamorada’s existing Morada Way Arts and Cultural District, a nonprofit corporation separate from village government, lines the Old Highway for six blocks on the oceanside, from the Green Turtle Inn to the Florida Keys Memorial, better known as Hurricane Monument. The district was created in 2011 and hosts the popular Art Walks.

The suggested arts-and-business “dependent special district” would cover that same area, plus the addition of U.S. 1 commercial businesses on the bayside from the Islamorada Fish Co. and World Wide Sportsman to the Lowe Art Gallery and Seaside Glass, north of Blackwood Drive.

The art-and-business district “would be a village entity governed by the Village Council, which is wholly separate and distinct” from the Morada Way Arts and Cultural District, wrote Village Manager Seth Lawless and Village Attorney Roget Bryan.

The Village Council has worked with business owners in the existing Morada Way arts district but concepts for added parking and better street lighting in the area have moved slowly due to financial constraints and a fluid membership of the “grassroots” business organization.

If eventually approved, Islamorada could create an advisory board from “business owners and other stakeholders” in the art-and-business district to coordinate with the municipality, but the Village Council would have final say on potential tax assessments, final work plans and expenditures.

The business-district discussion at the Jan. 10 meeting at the Founders Park Community will be presented as a staff report, which the council asked for.

Other items at the Village Council’s first meeting of 2019 include:

• A final reading of an ordinance on “methods related to measuring building height.” Islamorada has a firm 35-foot limit on the height of new construction, but staff seeks to clarify how that ground-to-roof height is determined on properties with sloping or uneven surfaces.

• Separate resolutions on an extension of a code-compliance lien amnesty for owners who agree to make improvements, and ranking of building-permit allocations from late 2018;

• Discussion of possible incentives for affordable-housing projects.

‘Freecycle’ event

Islamorada stages its first “freecycle” fair from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 12, at Founders Park, mile marker 87, to promote recycling by giving away used office furniture, filing cabinets, excess office supplies, electronics and audio-visual equipment.

Seventeen cars and trucks up for sealed-bid auction by Jan. 25 will be open to inspection from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 12 at the administration complex at Founders Park. A second inspection period is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 19. Auction details will be available at the inspections. Also being auctioned are two golf carts (not running) and a utility trailer.

kwadlow@keysnews.com