Margate Commission Narrowly Passes Driveway Ordinance to Ease Parking Issues
Residential parking in Margate {City of Margate}

By Bryan Boggiano

Margate officials are looking for ways to park more cars on driveways — and off the grass.

The city commission passed an ordinance at their Wed., Sept. 7 meeting that would allow homeowners to widen their driveways and mitigate residential parking issues.

Both the new and old ordinances consider the dimensions of the lot that a house is on to define how wide a driveway can be. They look at the primary frontage for non-corner houses, typically the side where the main entrance faces the street.

For corner houses, a secondary frontage usually is the street-facing side that does not serve as the main entrance.

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Under the old code, the city differentiates between residential units greater than 45 feet and less than 45 feet. The ordinance outlines provisions for residential units with straight and circular driveways.

Under the former ordinance, lots with less than 45 feet of frontage could only have one driveway. That driveway’s maximum width could be 18 feet or 40 percent of the lot frontage, whichever is less.

The total width of the same property with a circular driveway could be 18 feet or 40 percent of the lot frontage, whichever was less.

For lots with a primary frontage of greater than 45 feet, a straight driveway with a maximum width of 18 feet was allowed.

If a corner property has a circular driveway, the code allowed for a 10-foot-wide straight driveway to be included on the secondary frontage.

The new ordinance now differentiates between properties with a primary frontage of fewer than 54 feet and greater than 54 feet. For lots with a primary frontage of fewer than 54 feet, the maximum-allowed driveway space width increases from 18 feet to 27 feet.

On the secondary frontage, a driveway may have a width of 20 percent of the length of the secondary frontage, but it may be no less than nine feet wide. These properties can have up to two driveway lanes.

For lots with a primary frontage greater than 54 feet, driveway space may have a maximum width of 60 percent of the length of the primary footage, no less than 32.4 feet. They can have up to three driveway lanes.

For lots with a secondary frontage, the driveway on that part of the property may have a width that is 20 percent of the length of the secondary frontage but no less than nine feet wide.

The original new code called for the driveways to have a width of 50 percent of the primary frontage, but the commission passed an amendment to increase this figure to 60.

That suggestion came from Commissioner Tommy Ruzzano, who suggested that a slightly larger driveway would give families with four or more cars some reprieve.

The commission noted that the new ordinance might not apply to private communities and those with homeowners associations.

The issues the commission discussed involved effects on the canal and drainage systems, building materials like asphalt and concrete, the lack of an environmental study, traffic, and parked vehicles hampering emergency response, and negatively affecting neighborhood aesthetics.

Both Commissioners Joanne Simone and Arlene Schwartz warned that the new ordinance would make neighborhoods less aesthetically pleasing. Simone also expressed that hurricanes, mixed with less green space, could mean more flooding.

Margate Commission Narrowly Passes Driveway Ordinance to Ease Parking Issues
Residential parking in Margate {City of Margate}

“I think [the city is] making a big mistake,” she said. “I don’t think what we’re doing up here tonight is the answer either.”

Schwartz suggested that residents utilize their garages for additional parking, but most of the commission disagreed with the idea, stating that most residents use their garages for storage. She said that she would not support mandatory garage parking.

Ruzzano criticized both Schwartz and Simone for supporting garage parking, stating that it was the two single women who supported the idea.

Both of them slammed his comments, stating they had family living with or visiting them.

Vice Mayor Anthony Caggiano said that although the new ordinance was not the best solution to the problem of parking in Margate, passing it would be better than doing nothing at all.

Caggiano and Schwartz exchanged words back and forth, agreeing that parking was a significant issue but disagreeing on what course of action to take.

“Not everybody’s gonna be happy, but we still have to do something,” he said. 

Mayor Antonio Arserio noted that the parking issue worsened as the city’s population grew and younger people lived at home longer.

He said that although the driveway expansion would not solve the entire parking problem, it would solve an important piece of the puzzle.

Arserio also acknowledged the potential environmental effects of driveway expansions. Still, he noted that the city has to be realistic and consider that not every house will undertake construction and that utilizing a study of the whole city would not be feasible.

“To suggest a city-wide study, I don’t know if we could afford to do that,” he said. 

Curt Keyser, Department of Environmental and Engineering director, agreed with Arserio on the finances, but he did caution the commission about increasing the driveway width from 50 to 60 percent of the total frontage.

Ultimately, the amendment to increase the maximum width from 50 to 60 percent narrowly passed 3-2. Arserio, Caggiano, and Ruzzano supported it. Schwartz and Simone voted against it.

The final ordinance passed 3-2 with the same support and opposition.

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Bryan Boggiano
A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan plans to pursue geosciences at Florida International University for his master's. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.