By Agrippina Fadel
A Tamarac resident warns that without a halt on new residential developments, the only answer to congested traffic on Commercial Blvd might be flying cars. However, the city says they are simply strategizing for growth and securing affordable housing.
Maxine Calloway, the Assistant City Manager, and Community Development Director, underscored to Tamarac Talk that strategizing for future growth is an inherent role of local government.
“Tamarac’s population has surged since the last census, jumping from under 60,145 to 71,897. This trend is set to continue, with a projected population of nearly 100,000 by 2040.”
She warned that the nationwide scarcity of affordable housing is particularly acute in Florida and Broward County.
Dr. Darcy Schiller, a vocal Kings Point resident, brought up the traffic congestion issue during the May 24 commission meeting. “We need to enter The Jetsons era and start flying, as the roads are beyond overfilled,” Schiller said, arguing against more construction projects.
Commissioner Elvin Villalobos earlier suggested a temporary pause on new developments but failed to gain support from his colleagues. Villalobos asserted that he voiced the worries of hundreds of Tamarac residents about overbuilding and traffic.
“While we value intelligent developments and the broadening of roads to accommodate growth, we also bear a responsibility towards overseeing the projects in Tamarac and its neighboring cities,” said Villalobos.
This plea for action comes amid considerations for Advantis Tamarac, a proposed 278-unit apartment complex located at the former Cheddar’s location on 7951 W. Commercial Blvd, which is due for review by the Planning and Zoning board.
Villalobos mentioned nine large residential projects currently under development in the city and proposed a hold until they’re complete and near capacity. This would allow for a comprehensive assessment of their impact on city services and transportation.
Mayor Michelle Gomez, however, insisted that the city already has regulations to manage new developments.
Using the Woodlands development as an example, which was first proposed with 800 homes and was approved with 335, she pointed out that not every proposed project is executed as planned.
“If we wait for [all the projects to be complete and near capacity], Tamarac will be left behind,” warned Gomez. She emphasized that extensive construction projects take time and that developers are entitled to present their proposals to the city.
Gomez also voiced concern about the impact of a moratorium on Tamarac’s growth and economic prospects.
“Declaring a construction halt essentially conveys that Tamarac is not open for business and not seeking community revitalization,” she said. She argued that much of the uproar is premature, particularly concerning the Advantis Tamarac project which hasn’t even reached the city commission yet.
Calloway highlighted the harsh reality that 92% of Broward County residents are priced out of the housing market with the current median sale price for single-family homes at $565,000. She added that Tamarac particularly struggles with a lack of owner-occupied and rental housing options.
Calloway assured that the city has diligently formulated plans through its Comprehensive Plan, Redevelopment Study, and Land Development Code to spur redevelopment where needed.
“New construction also means tax revenues for the city, which in turn fund services to the residents and infrastructure maintenance,” Calloway said.
She pointed out that Commercial Boulevard, a State Road, also grapples with traffic from neighboring cities like Lauderhill, Lauderdale Lakes, and Sunrise. Thus, while Tamarac isn’t solely responsible for the road congestion, it is actively working on solutions to mitigate the anticipated traffic fallout.
“We will continue to receive impacts from developments occurring in other cities, and we expect impacts whether or not the vacant and abandoned Cheddar’s property is redeveloped,” said Calloway.
- Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master's in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.
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