Following a wave of discontent from residents, including a possible lawsuit over a proposal to store boats, Miami Lakes Town Council members reconsidered the plan and moved to study other alternatives to appease their constituents’ concerns.
At the March 11 regular Town Council meeting, the proposed site at 14501 N.W. 77 Avenue, which belongs to FPL, was greeted with strong opposition from residents, who indicated the storage lot would bring down property values and attract more loitering.
Vice Mayor Manny Cid initially asked his colleagues to create a fact-finding committee to study the area to determine if it’s suitable for residents to store their watercraft and commercial vehicles.
Some residents said they had to call the police on many occasions because “unwanted” people were drinking and loitering in the vacant lot and a boat yard would create more problems.
“A boat yard would mean more congestion,” one resident told councilmembers.
The Town Council decided to explore other options.
"After listening to the residents in the surrounding area, the Council decided to remove the site from further consideration," said Cid. "In our Constitutional Republic form of government the voice of the people (Vox Populi) is always heard and respected."
Council members will host several workshops to continue studying alternatives for a storage facility, including land owned the Miami-Dade Aviation Department which is paved and fenced with 124 marked spaces. “Our thanks to Miami Lakes resident and commercial broker Ladd Howell for identifying this site and bringing it to our attention,” Cid said.
“Many facts were presented to the Council which warranted further discussion,” said Cid.
When the Town incorporated in 2001, residents who owned boats and/or commercial vehicles prior to incorporation were able to keep them on their property but were required to register their vehicles with the town. A total of 81 boats and one commercial vehicle were registered with the town, Cid said.
Later, homeowners who wanted to do the same after the grandfathering period expired, were required to request variances. Since then, 33 boat variance applications were submitted; 19 of which were approved under the practical difficulty criteria, and one which was approved on hardship criteria. Of the 13 non-approved applications, seven were withdrawn by residents and six were denied by the Town. Only two variance applications for trailers and RV's have been submitted – one for a trailer which was withdrawn by the resident, and the other for an RV which was denied by the Town.
After the grandfathering period, there have been a total of 2,841 violations cited. Of those, 1,639 were for commercial vehicles/trailers, 976 for boats, and 226 for RV's/campers/jetskis. The total financial impact of these violations ranges from a minimum of $700,000 to over $1 million combined, Cid said.
The storage proposal will not affect those who registered during the grandfathering period nor those who received variances. The storage lot will help residents comply with the code and keep the Town aesthetically beautiful for many years to come.