How We Became a Village
Incorporation; No Simple Task
Palmetto Bay is celebrating 15 Years! Looking back, it is hard to imagine that it has been more than a decade since Palmetto Bay voters agreed to create the Village of Palmetto Bay, making it possible for the once-unincorporated area to become the 33rd incorporated municipality in Miami-Dade County.
As we celebrate our 15 years, we reminisce on the process that brought us to where we are today; a vibrant residential community with even better times to come. And, without sounding pretentious, we also bask in the glory of our successes so far.
It all started back in 1992, following the devastation caused by Hurricane Andrew. Many were left without power and water for days while the county attended to other areas. It was then when residents decided that they wanted to have full control over their public services, and in 1995, the Alliance of Palmetto South Homeowners Association petitioned the County to incorporate the area into its own city. The group worked tirelessly for 5 long years. Finally in May of 2000, the Board of County Commissioners established the Palmetto Bay Municipal Advisory Committee, which was charged with the primary responsibility of gathering support for incorporation. Over the course of many public meetings and hearings, the committee developed a set of goals and values that served as the foundation for the incorporation movement and that still hold true to this day;
- improve safety
- better parks and recreation services
- improve public areas
- improve other basic services
- easier process to develop regulations
- enhanced public participation in local government
Today, community safety continues to be our number 1 priority. Through a collaborative agreement with the county that started upon our incorporation in 2002, Miami-Dade officers are specifically assigned to Palmetto Bay and the Village reimburses the county for accrued expenses. The agreement allows Palmetto Bay access to other extended law enforcement services that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive for the Village, such as 24/7 dispatch. Crime rates in Palmetto Bay continue to be among the lowest in the area and residents have a sense of confidence in their community’s safety.
Our parks and public areas are probably the ones with the most notable changes since Palmetto Bay’s incorporation. We expanded our initial three-park system to include two additional facilities and are currently working on another. Starting with the transformation of Coral Reef Park, Palmetto Bay Park and Perrine Wayside Park and ending with the addition and complete renovation of Thalatta Estate and Ludovici Park. Not to mention the addition of a public library after convincing Miami-Dade County that the Coral Reef Park branch was insufficient and that we needed one within our boundaries.
Our uniquely-styled street signs and our beautifully-landscaped traffic circles and other traffic calming features add beauty and serenity to our public spaces while slowing down neighborhood traffic. We still hold the title of “Tree City USA,” a designation that is bestowed upon cities with extensive tree canopies and a strong commitment to planting new trees in the public right-of-way. We are also known as “Play City USA.” Another designation in recognition of the great work we do in Parks and Recreation.
Palmetto Bay has also come a long way with respect to regulations. Incorporation gave Palmetto Bay’s elected officials the ability to set policy, establish user fees, identify priorities, and approve zoning regulations. Decisions affecting Palmetto Bay that were previously made at the county level in a building in Downtown Miami, are now locally-decided by Palmetto Bay-elected Councilmembers. In 2002, Palmetto Bay embarked on creating its own Building & Planning Department, which was initially outsourced but was fully brought in-house in 2007 as the Village sought for full flexibility in staffing requirements and control over departmental regulations. Our Building Department today has become one of the top county-wide as rated by the International Organization for Standardization. The Planning Division was recently recognized for by the Florida Public Service Association for its work on the Downtown Urban Village code.
As elected officials, the Village Council is charged with the responsibility to identify strategies that benefit the community as a whole. The Resident-Council communication flows in both directions. The Council looks for feedback from the residents through outreach and through resident-focused advisory committees that provide meaningful recommendations to the Council. Residents receive information through various methods that include regular electronic communications, updated postings on the Village website, social media, and our own television station.
Residents are always encouraged to participate in the governmental process and to present their own ideas, concerns and solutions to reach our common goals. As a new idea in 2016, we hosted a few telephonic town hall meetings to give residents the opportunity to voice their concerns and opinions from the comfort of their home.
Our past has been bright, but our future will be brighter. We look to the next chapter with great enthusiasm and a new set of priorities coming from your elected leaders. While incorporating was no easy task and in fact took a lot of time and effort from many exemplary volunteers, we have become a premier community in South Florida as a result. And to think it all started with a hurricane and a drive! Remain engaged; remain informed.