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The City of Palm Bay to host HUBZone Webinar in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration
The Melbourne City Council has approved a conceptual plan to make changes to city code that will help reduce costs and provide additional incentives to encourage more affordable housing development in the City of Melbourne.
The City of Melbourne currently has many incentives in city code to encourage affordable housing, such as the deferral of impact fees for the development of affordable housing units dependent upon the household income level. However, the need for affordable housing units is great, and Council has set a goal to increase the supply of affordable housing as part of a greater plan to reduce homelessness in the City of Melbourne.
The Affordable Housing Advisory Committee and City staff recently completed a thorough review of the city’s current affordable housing incentives to determine what was working well and what could be improved. This study led to the following proposed changes to city code that were presented to Council at the September 29, 2021, meeting:
- Allow a carport in lieu of an enclosed garage for single-family units.
- Reduce required parking for one-bedroom multifamily units to one parking space.
- Allow all multifamily residential parking spaces to be 10 feet in width.
- Allow a decrease in the minimum living area for single-family units from 1,000 square feet to:
o 550 square feet for a one-bedroom unit,
o 650 square feet for a two-bedroom unit,
o 800 square feet for a three-bedroom unit, and
o an additional 100 square feet for any additional bedrooms.
- Allow accessory dwelling units on lots greater than 14,520 square feet instead of the current one-acre (43,560 square feet) requirement.
- Reduce building setbacks for multifamily structures over one story in height.
- Reduce the buffer area requirement for multifamily development from 50 feet to 30 feet and allow an opaque fence instead of a masonry wall when abutting single-family units.
- Allow single-family infill lots to utilize the affordable housing development standards.
- Allow residential development within a C-1 zoning district without requiring a conditional use.
- Remove required thresholds for a minimum number of units in each income level to allow a development to be directed at one or multiple income level thresholds. (City Code currently requires 30% to 40% of the units from all three income categories.)
- Allow a streamlined occupancy timeline for affordable units: 50% completion of affordable units when the overall development is 50% complete and then 100% completion of affordable units when the development is 100% complete.
- Provide a minimum affordability timeframe of 20 years for the use of the development standards and to be incorporated into the Land Use Restriction Agreement.
Council gave conceptual approval of these changes and directed staff to return with an ordinance for future City Council review. The plan also calls for an allowance for a density bonus for the development of affordable housing units that will need to go to the Department of Economic Opportunity for review before it can be incorporated into city code.
For more information:
- Watch the presentation by Community Development Director Cindy Dittmer and City Council’s discussion during the September, 29, 2021, City Council meeting.
- Read the agenda memo from the September 29, 2021, City Council meeting.
- Call Community Development — 321-608-7500 — if you have questions about developing affordable housing in the City of Melbourne.
City of Melbourne Awarded State Grant to Fund Innovative Downtown Stormwater Treatment Project
he City of Melbourne has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Stormwater Infrastructure Program to fund a new stormwater treatment project that will transform existing landscaped features in Downtown Melbourne to planted landscaped boxes that can capture and clean polluted stormwater. In addition to keeping polluted stormwater out of the Indian River Lagoon, the project will help alleviate standing water that remains in the curbs after heavy rains.
The new treatment boxes will be installed within existing landscaped islands on the corner of New Haven Avenue and Municipal Lane and on the corner of New Haven Avenue and Vernon Place. Stormwater will be diverted into the boxes from the curb and filtered through layers of vegetation and treatment media.
The project will include use of two types of media, including a new media not previously used in the state of Florida. After the project is constructed, a team from the University of Florida will study and monitor the effectiveness of the different types of treatment media used. Results may help determine which type of media is most effective in removing pollutants, such as excess hydrocarbons, that are a particular problem in urban commercial areas like Downtown Melbourne. Lessons learned could help inform future projects in similar areas statewide.
The $200,000 grant will be used to construct the boxes. The City will contribute $25,000 for design and surveying services. Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2022.
The City of Melbourne is offering $50 rebates to homeowners who install the following water-saving features in their homes:
Residential water customers who reside within the city limits of Melbourne are eligible to participate in the city’s rain barrel rebate program. Qualifying customers will receive one $50 rebate for installing a new 40-gallon or larger rain barrel. A rain barrel can save approximately 1,300 gallons of water during peak summer months. Rain barrels also help protect the Indian River Lagoon by reducing the amount of rainwater entering the stormwater system. More information about the Rain Barrel Rebate program is available on the city’s website.
All City of Melbourne residential water customers who get their water bill directly from the city can receive a $50 rebate for replacing a toilet that was installed before 1994 with a new WaterSense certified high-efficiency toilet (flush rate of 1.28 gallons or less). A family of four replacing a toilet from the 1980s could expect to save approximately 25,000 gallons of water per year by installing a new WaterSense toilet.
Residential customers who live within the city limits of Melbourne can receive up to a $50 rebate for purchasing and installing a composter that has at least a 30-gallon capacity. Adding compost to your landscaping creates healthier soil that retains water and nutrients better and reduces the need for increased lawn irrigation and the use of fertilizers that can wash into stormdrains and pollute the Indian River Lagoon. More information about composting and the Composter Rebate Program is available on the City of Melbourne website.
How to Apply for a Rebate
Rebate application packets are available by calling the Environmental Community Outreach (ECO) Division at 321-608-5080 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Rebates will be available until budgeted rebate funds are depleted or until September 30, 2022, whichever comes first. Only one rebate will be provided per account and/or per address with the same resident throughout the duration of the City’s rebate programs.
I have been thinking about some incidents that happened in our local community this past week.
Protesters showed up at a school board member’s home and coughed in her face. Technically that is assault but the local police department didn’t prosecute the cougher because of an “invitation” to cough.
Another protester showed up outside a high school telling students to “stand up against a tira-ta-natical government” and to resist the recent mask mandate. He was “escorted” off school property and allowed to go on his way.
The same protester got into an altercation with a young man, hit him in the head with a PVC pipe, sent the young man to the hospital for his injuries, and then went drinking afterwards. He has yet to be arrested because the young man “threw the first punch” and the protester claimed self defense despite his using excessive force when he escalated the altercation by introducing a weapon.
Another person in a group I’m in was followed by a truck with several flags showing support for the former president. She didn’t even bother to file a report with the police.
I am compelled to remember Dr Martin Luther King’s words when he defined peace and justice in that “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice” and in the absence of justice there can be no real peace. When it seems like local law enforcement agencies seem to look for reasons not to apply the law or to look for creative ways to misapply the law, justice seems to be a far away theory that only exists in legal scholarship or (maybe)in select courtrooms. I submit to you that justice, not the notion of justice but real justice, is for everyday people to be applied equally and not to those who curry favor within the police department or those select few who can afford it in a courtroom.
Now there is just tension. Tension is invisible, but palpable just the same.
Justice is the literal glue that holds our social contract together. We are supposed to understand that there are rules that we didn’t make and we cannot break or else we must face the consequences of our actions. When the social contract is broken, when accountability is selectively applied, society suffers as a whole because there is now a justified lack of trust in the social contract. Again Martin Luther King articulates it perfectly in his 1963 work “Letters from a Birmingham Jail” when he wrote “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” If there were police accountability boards with authority to actually conduct oversight and impose penalties, implement improvements to policing, and ensure there were no undue influences upon, or within, law enforcement organizations then the social contract would be strengthened. Justice would become a real thing to citizens, tension would be lessened, and there would be a true peace imparted to citizens.
Racism hurts everyone. No one mentioned in those incidents were people of color.
Because citizen oversight boards are usually attributed to communities of color, those boards and issues are usually overlooked and dismissed. Because citizen oversight committees are usually attributed to communities of color, they are generally toothless and are there for “a show of outreach” to the community and not to ensure that “protect and serve” becomes policy instead of just a slogan on a car.
Fannie Lou Hamer said it best “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”
In 2021, I have to believe she means free from fear, free from sexism, free from Xenophobia, free from all forms of discrimination, and free to enjoy the true peace that comes from the presence of justice.
Are WE free yet?
David H. Julian
The views express is not endorsed by Palm Bay Live or its affiliates. Readers can respond by commenting or submitting a response to Palmbaylive@gmail.com. Material with expletives or content that is considered offensive will not be published.
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine has been known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, and will now be marketed as Comirnaty (koe-mir’-na-tee), for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.
“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. While this and other vaccines have met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “While millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. Today’s milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S.”
Since Dec. 11, 2020, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has been available under EUA in individuals 16 years of age and older, and the authorization was expanded to include those 12 through 15 years of age on May 10, 2021. EUAs can be used by the FDA during public health emergencies to provide access to medical products that may be effective in preventing, diagnosing, or treating a disease, provided that the FDA determines that the known and potential benefits of a product, when used to prevent, diagnose, or treat the disease, outweigh the known and potential risks of the product.
FDA-approved vaccines undergo the agency’s standard process for reviewing the quality, safety and effectiveness of medical products. For all vaccines, the FDA evaluates data and information included in the manufacturer’s submission of a biologics license application (BLA). A BLA is a comprehensive document that is submitted to the agency providing very specific requirements. For Comirnaty, the BLA builds on the extensive data and information previously submitted that supported the EUA, such as preclinical and clinical data and information, as well as details of the manufacturing process, vaccine testing results to ensure vaccine quality, and inspections of the sites where the vaccine is made. The agency conducts its own analyses of the information in the BLA to make sure the vaccine is safe and effective and meets the FDA’s standards for approval.
Comirnaty contains messenger RNA (mRNA), a kind of genetic material. The mRNA is used by the body to make a mimic of one of the proteins in the virus that causes COVID-19. The result of a person receiving this vaccine is that their immune system will ultimately react defensively to the virus that causes COVID-19. The mRNA in Comirnaty is only present in the body for a short time and is not incorporated into – nor does it alter – an individual’s genetic material. Comirnaty has the same formulation as the EUA vaccine and is administered as a series of two doses, three weeks apart.
“Our scientific and medical experts conducted an incredibly thorough and thoughtful evaluation of this vaccine. We evaluated scientific data and information included in hundreds of thousands of pages, conducted our own analyses of Comirnaty’s safety and effectiveness, and performed a detailed assessment of the manufacturing processes, including inspections of the manufacturing facilities,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “We have not lost sight that the COVID-19 public health crisis continues in the U.S. and that the public is counting on safe and effective vaccines. The public and medical community can be confident that although we approved this vaccine expeditiously, it was fully in keeping with our existing high standards for vaccines in the U.S.”
FDA Evaluation of Safety and Effectiveness Data for Approval for 16 Years of Age and Older
The first EUA, issued Dec. 11, for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for individuals 16 years of age and older was based on safety and effectiveness data from a randomized, controlled, blinded ongoing clinical trial of thousands of individuals.
To support the FDA’s approval decision today, the FDA reviewed updated data from the clinical trial which supported the EUA and included a longer duration of follow-up in a larger clinical trial population.
Specifically, in the FDA’s review for approval, the agency analyzed effectiveness data from approximately 20,000 vaccine and 20,000 placebo recipients ages 16 and older who did not have evidence of the COVID-19 virus infection within a week of receiving the second dose. The safety of Comirnaty was evaluated in approximately 22,000 people who received the vaccine and 22,000 people who received a placebo 16 years of age and older.
Based on results from the clinical trial, the vaccine was 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 disease.
More than half of the clinical trial participants were followed for safety outcomes for at least four months after the second dose. Overall, approximately 12,000 recipients have been followed for at least 6 months.
The most commonly reported side effects by those clinical trial participants who received Comirnaty were pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain, chills, and fever. The vaccine is effective in preventing COVID-19 and potentially serious outcomes including hospitalization and death.
Additionally, the FDA conducted a rigorous evaluation of the post-authorization safety surveillance data pertaining to myocarditis and pericarditis following administration of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and has determined that the data demonstrate increased risks, particularly within the seven days following the second dose. The observed risk is higher among males under 40 years of age compared to females and older males. The observed risk is highest in males 12 through 17 years of age. Available data from short-term follow-up suggest that most individuals have had resolution of symptoms. However, some individuals required intensive care support. Information is not yet available about potential long-term health outcomes. The Comirnaty Prescribing Information includes a warning about these risks.
Ongoing Safety Monitoring
The FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have monitoring systems in place to ensure that any safety concerns continue to be identified and evaluated in a timely manner. In addition, the FDA is requiring the company to conduct postmarketing studies to further assess the risks of myocarditis and pericarditis following vaccination with Comirnaty. These studies will include an evaluation of long-term outcomes among individuals who develop myocarditis following vaccination with Comirnaty. In addition, although not FDA requirements, the company has committed to additional post-marketing safety studies, including conducting a pregnancy registry study to evaluate pregnancy and infant outcomes after receipt of Comirnaty during pregnancy.