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Key West Approves Increasing Height For Construction Of Affordable Housing

Nancy Klingener
Key West voters Tuesday approved raising the height limit on this city-owned land from 25 to 40 feet of habitable space.

Key West voters Tuesday approved raising the height limit from 25 to 40 feet of habitable space on a 2.62-acre parcel of city-owned property.

The goal is to provide 104 units of affordable workforce housing.

The land is on Stock Island, the island just east of Key West, but is within the incorporated city limits. The land was formerly used by an Easter Seals therapy center and includes the Lower Keys offices of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, which is moving out.

"To get the maximum units there, we have to go up, and that way we can have parking underneath and have two stories of apartments," Key West Mayor Craig Cates said Tuesday.

The plan is to provide efficiency and one-bedroom apartments that will be for low- and very-low income workers, Cates said.

"They'll be for singles or a couple. That's what's needed, very badly," he said.

For those who worried that making an exception to the city's strict height limits could act as a precedent for future projects, Cates said it's still up to city voters and any future exceptions would also require their approval.

"The referendum's very clear,"  he said. "It's only for those three parcels."

Also on Tuesday, voters in the Middle Keys city of Key Colony Beach approved changing the terms of their commissioners from two years to four years and moving the elections to November of even-numbered years.

Key Colony Beach voters also approved getting rid of a runoff election in the event of a tie vote, and resolving a tie by lot, or drawing straws.

Nancy Klingener covers the Florida Keys for WLRN. Since moving to South Florida in 1989, she has worked for the Miami Herald, Solares Hill newspaper and the Monroe County Public Library.