Islamorada, Florida

The Village of Islamorada, population 6,383 (2018) incorporates six of the islands known as the Florida Keys. In 2011, it adopted a TDR ordinance aimed at preserving environmentally-sensitive and flood-prone lands.  

The program features three types of sending sites: vacant residential or non-residential lots; existing non-residential floor area; and existing residential units. Sending sites must be more environmentally sensitive than receiving sites as determined by three property classes in the village code or a survey performed by a certified biologist.

When sending sites consist of existing non-residential floor area, the code pairs eleven sending site zones with various combinations of eleven eligible receiving zones plus various exceptions. Transfers cannot be made from a non-shoreline sending site to a shoreline receiving site. Structures cannot be placed in a VE flood zone. 

In an usual feature, after the transfer of non-residential floor area the sending site may still be used for affordable housing either by conversion of the existing structure or construction of a new structure. The conversion/construction of affordable housing on the sending site must be completed before a building permit is issued for the receiving site.

The transfer of residential development rights can only occur between sending and receiving sites zone for residential. Development rights from sending sites in 21 different zones are paired with receiving sites in 20 zoning districts. These pairings match one sending site zone with from 10 to 20 eligible receiving site zones. As with non-residential transfers, receiving site structures cannot be built in a VE flood zone. After a transfer of residential rights, the sending site must remain permanently preserved with the exception of transfers from hotel or motel units in which case the sending site may be granted additional rights for affordable housing through the village’s Building Permit Allocation System. Hotel/motel TDRs can only be transferred for hotel/motel units on receiving sites.

TDRs allow receiving sites at least one additional market rate dwelling unit or as much density/intensity as the receiving site zoning allows. For example, a receiving site zoned Multi-Family MF has a baseline density of six units per acre and a maximum density of 12 units per acre when TDRs are used. 

Islamorada’s Building Permit Allocation System limits the number of non-residential and residential building permits issued annually. The permit quota system does not apply to a new residential unit paired with the removal of an existing residential unit since there is no net increase in dwelling units. It is unclear whether the allocation system exempts new receiving site housing units paired with the demolition of housing units on a sending site. However, the allocation system clearly exempts new non-residential floor area on a receiving site when paired with the demolition of non-residential floor area on a sending site.