Editor’s note: The blog has been updated to include the correct number of spaces in the SunTrust / Truist building, which is 30, not 35, despite the staff report stating the number was 35..
In Monday’s City of Stuart bi-monthly Commission meeting, one of the agenda items was to add 51 parking spaces at the Monterey Medical Complex. But was it really 51 spaces? Not if you did the math.
Monterey Medical is on the corner of the US1 and Monterey. If anyone has tried to go to a doctor’s appointment there, visit the CVS, grab a coffee at Starbucks, or just try to navigate the back way to the SunTrust building, you’ve experienced the frustration of driving through or parking there.
In 2001 when the complex was originally approved, the project was approved knowing that there would be a Surgi-Center built on the site. The presumption was that the doctors in the medical building would be the same ones using the surgery center so the approval was given with less than the required number of parking spaces justified stating “the reduction in required spaces and that the future 12,400 sq.ft Surgi-center would require only 22 spaces.” (Click here to view / download the City of Stuart’s staff report.)
In 2009, the Surgi-Center was approved for 9,500 square feet, smaller than the original proposal of 12,400 square feet. Instead of looking forward and insisting parking be considered, the then City Commission approved a credit of 35 spaces.
Over the years compounded by constant overscheduling by the doctors’ offices in the medical complex, the parking problem finally got to the point where it needed to be addressed.
On September 13, 2021, on behalf of the site owners, the City of Stuart development staff presented to the City Commission a request to add parking. The plan was to basically just add more pavement and voila, the parking situation would be somewhat resolved. Luckily, at that time, the City Commissioners recognized the plan was deficient and asked the site owner to come back after reviewing more environmentally friendly options and ones that had longer-term outlooks, including a parking garage.
Fast forward to Monday night’s City Commission meeting where City Staff presented the plan to the Commissioners. Yes, there were improvements by adding pervious surfaces so drainage would be better. But we’ve learned that if it’s not properly maintained, pervious surfaces might as well be impervious. And underground water storage was added, which is great. But there is no mandatory or required treatment of the water before it goes in to the water table or estuary. It was improved but not in the ways that any parking was truly solved. This is where it comes down to strictly numbers.
The request before the Commission was to add 51 spaces in a reconfigured layout of the existing lot and it would not be a parking garage which, theoretically, would allow for a smaller footprint and more cars. Currently, according to the site owners, 12 people park in the grass. 30 people can park in the SunTrust / Truist building parking deck in which spaces are currently leased on a month-to-month basis. So let’s pretend that the 12 persons currently parking in the grass now park in the newly paved spot.s And let’s pretend that while there is currently an agreement with SunTrust / Truist, that the deck is full that day or that the building ceases the agreement and now those 30 people can ONLY park in the medical complex lot. So of the 51 requested spaces, 12 persons previously parking in the grass and 30 no longer parking in the parking garage next door could theoretically occupy 42 of those spaces. So for the cost and inconvenience of this effort, the possible net available parking at the Monterey Medical Complex is 9.
A net of 9 parking spaces were approved to accommodate the paving of dry retention areas and implementation of a water retention system that does not have a system or requirement to break down nutrients before they move to our ecosystem.
NOTE: A condition was placed that the site owner must retain some kind of off-site parking, but how do make another site owner agree to that and how do you make those visiting the building actually park off-site?
This is a slippery slope that this approval creates. A developer was given an exception to have lesser parking stalls than required and now isn’t up to code. So the developer comes back to request more parking to bring the site up to code but now needs to eliminate dry retention, which is all but required to prevent flooding and help retain and filter water the way nature intended. So now the Commission has approved parking for zoning and destroyed a little more green space. Gee, sounds just like what was approved at the Kanner CPUD, Trillium, and Central Parkway Lofts. I guess we will have to wait to see what happens when residents of those sites have guests and complain that there is nowhere to park.
Thank you to Mayor Matheson for pointing out the mathematical flaw presented by City Staff on behalf of the developer and to Mayor Matheson and Commissioner Clarke for voting no. Just because a proposed plan meets code doesn’t mean it’s the best plan.