Summary of Town Council’s May meeting actions

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 0 Comments

As part of a settlement agreement to squash a lawsuit, the Miami Lakes Town Council approved a site plan to allow a developer to build four homes in a subdivision to the dismay of residents, conceivably igniting another legal battle. 

Comar Ventures Corporation’s development plans include building four ranch-style homes in Loch Ness, 7242 Loch Ness Drive, on four of the five lots the developer purchased in 2015.
Last year, council members rejected Comar Ventures’ plans to build five homes, three of them two-story houses, following residents’ claim the proposed development was not consistent with the community’s deed restrictions despite town staff’s approval since it met the town’s code.

The company sued Miami Lakes but the two sides reached an agreement over revised plans including one less house, no two-story homes and the development would face two cul-de-sacs instead of Loch Ness Drive to alleviate any traffic congestion. 

Comar’s attorney Javier Vazquez told council members his client tweaked his proposal to appease residents and plans to meet with the Architecture Control Committee to review the proposal. 

Vazquez said his client rejected the group’s version of what the development should resemble. “The HOA offered a revision which was not acceptable,” he said.       
The Loch Lomond Homeowners Association hired Dr. Steven Bourassa, an urban and regional planning professor at Florida Atlantic University, to argue the residents’ case.

He said the proposed homes are too big for the four lots in Loch Lomond, and the boundaries may not line up properly with the rest of the homes, which were built in the 1970s. 

“The roofs may be overhand, the windows and doors would extend close to the eve, and the front porches would be too wide,” Bourassa said. “The ranch-style homes may fit other areas in Miami-Dade County, but they don’t fit this neighborhood.” 

But another lawyer representing Comar Ventures Corporation debunked Bourassa’s credibility since he has no experience in small subdivision or local planning.
He said former town planner Brandon Schadd, and current town planner Darby DelSalle scrutinized both development plans and concluded they are compatible with the town’s code.

Councilmember Ceasar Mestre, who voted for the proposal, said compatible doesn’t always mean exactly the same. 

“I don’t think they have to be exactly the same,” he said. “I don’t see it as it makes the proposed project incompatible with everything else. Obviously, if it was a warehouse or a three-story house, I would say, it just doesn’t belong there.” 

Sensing the residents of Loch Lomond may file a lawsuit to overturn the council’s decision, Mayor Manny Cid offered a motion with the site plan approval, which didn’t sit well with the applicant’s attorneys. 

Council members narrowly approved Cid’s recommendation that Comar Ventures Corporation must go back before council members for a revised site plan for approval if the court rules the development is not compliant with deed restrictions.

The attorneys for the applicant objected to Cid’s motion but were not allowed to speak since the public hearing was closed. 

Manny Ribadeo, president of the Loch Ness Homeowners Association, said a petition drive netted 170 signatures from equally bothered neighbors who vehemently rejected the development. 

“I brought my house with deed restrictions to follow, and the new kid on the block comes in and goes against the fabric of my neighborhood and community,” he said. “It rubs me the wrong way.”

In other town business: 

• Council members gave their final approval for an ordinance to amend the town’s procurement ordinance for a broader participation in the program and clarified the local preference language.
The change would make it easier for more businesses to qualify for local preference.

• Council members gave their final approval for two separate but related ordinances for the selection a process to pick the next town manager and town attorney. 

• Council members gave their approval for the Graham Companies’ final plat entitled “TGC Main Street East.” The location of the project is east of Northwest 67 Avenue and north side of Eagle Nest Lane. 

• Council members gave their approval to a resolution for the final plat of The Graham Companies’ project to build the Bob Graham office building located west of Oak Lane and south of Governor’s Square Boulevard. 

• Council members gave their approval to The Graham Companies’ final plat entitled “TGC Lakeside South” located at the southwest corner of Commerce Way and N.W. 82 Avenue. The project includes constructing two one-story warehouse/office buildings, 164 off-street parking spaces and associated improvements on a 5.3 acre site. 

• Council members denied a resolution to amend a site plan to allow patio walls of the townhouse portion of the Lennar Corporation development called Satori of other materials instead of the code-mandated standard masonry. The development is located at the northwest corner of N.W. 87 Avenue and N.W. 154 Street. 

• Council members adopted a resolution supporting the development of a Smart Cities strategic roadmap for the planning and the implementation of future Town Smart Cities initiatives. 

• Council members approved Councilmember Luis Collazo’s proposal to adopt a six month building moratorium and review the town’s current Land Development Code and adopting recommendations with respect to future land use and development in Miami Lakes.

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