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Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Greed is ruining the character of the Grove

Neighbors in the South Grove are fed up with zero lot line house and multi-dwellings being constructed on single family lots, I should guess that it's just not the South Grove, but also Center and North Grove. The real estate greed is really destroying quality of life, the only people who benefit are the people selling the properties.

Other complaints are tree destruction, but the fines are so low there that it's just a cost of doing business to knock down trees and pay the measly fee as a nuisance tax seems to be the norm.

Neighbors have had enough, we wish the politicians have had enough. It would be an ideal situation where new zoning laws were made or at least the current ones should be adhered to.

On Grove Street, Braganza and Ingraham Highway, single family lots have been subdivided and code is not being followed. Neighbors are currently contesting a project on Braganza where a single family lot is being turned into a four unit lot with zero lot lines. There is an appeal and a petition to stop the project. Neighbors feel that the character of the Grove is being lost and it's true. The Center Grove is a complete mess. Those cookie cutter town homes should never have been allowed, but that mess started years ago and it's the norm now.

I understand that the small houses that were on lots around the village are out of favor now, although if you see tv shows like Tiny House Nation, a small select few like small living, but for the most part, people like large kitchens and bathrooms and master bedrooms and so on, so it is hard to renovate a small 1400 foot house and resell it. That is understood. What isn't understood is how a five bedroom, 5000 square foot house is shoved into a 4500 square foot property. Zero lot lines ruin neighborhoods. Two or three houses on lots that are built for one house is pure greed.

From the county plat:

Appendix A.Sec 3.6   SINGLE–FAMILY  RESIDENTIAL  DISTRICT  (Neighborhood conservation district for Coconut Grove)

g. Additional Limitations and requirements. , (pg. A-18)

1. Lots and building sites: Wherever an existing single-family residence or lawful accessory building(s) or structure(s) is located on one or more platted lots or portions thereof, such lots shall thereafter constitute only one building site and no permit shall be issued for the construction of more than one single-family residence except by Warrant.

Mr. Chris Torres, with the city zoning department says that the Braganza property in question, cannot be subdivided. Plans there are for 4 units of 3500 sq. ft. each with 5 bedrooms and 5 baths, ALL 4 UNITS to be placed on the lot where there was formerly ONE single family house with 1 bathroom. Each lot will be approximately 6000 sq. feet.

Greed. Pure greed. The area around the Braganza property on Grove Street and Hardie and Bonita, all have had large and multi-dwellings built on single family lots, so who is to trust the city and zoning department on the Braganza property since so many other properties flouted the law?

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33 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom: This is one of Coconut Grove Grapevine’s most significant postings. All it needs is a “Call For Action” from concerned citizens and CGVC. Hope this effort on your part results in something positive, other than several ineffective comments from the usual suspects.

April 06, 2016 6:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was there a zoning hearing for the Barganza project? Or any if the other zero lot line projects? The way this works in the rest of the county is that when someone wants to do something not allowed by the zoning code, they'll request a variance, neighbors are notified about the hearing via mail, said neighbors ignore the hearing, and then they get mad later on down the line when the project starts.

April 06, 2016 7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 7:31 is correct, partially. The concept of variance is difficult to digest, talk about or contemplate. However, regarding this specific instance a WARRANT can be issued and that takes just one person; some public official or a judge and the laws or regulations don't count!? GREED? The only people who don't appear to be greedy are the homeless who probably just want to be left alone. In the Western culture, who isn't greedy; squirrels bury & store nuts, leopards store prey in trees and a lot of people store fat. I don't recognize limits, the sky's the limit, but these warrants are a stacked deck and personally I wouldn't waste my time or money fighting against this practice. Jobie Steppe

April 06, 2016 8:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great posting. I have seen this for the past couple of years. As I drive out of the grove to work. Everything in your post is true and on point. The only ones to blame is building and zoning down in city hall. I am sure if they lived next to a a property that now will be "mini mansions" with zero lot block any sunlight, neighbors having a clear view into your back yard and 3 stories high they would say no.

April 06, 2016 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You neglected to mention "The Village West". Although the properties are zoned duplex the developers are pushing the limits on height, tree destruction etc. After many trips down town and E Mails since March 2015 trying not to stop the project on my street but to have them conform to code I lost every time. Jobie is right it's a "stacked deck and a waste of time and money"

April 06, 2016 9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is not greed. This is the American economy. If you want people to come to the Grove for entertainment, food, etc. and local Grove businesses to thrive, there needs to be new housing. Plenty of potential home buyers would love to live in a little quaint house that has the character of the old Grove and a huge backyard, but the reality is that it is not affordable to buy a lot and renovate the old Grove house. Even in the West Grove, old run-down houses on large lot are being sold for $800,000+. The new townhouses/condos are relatively more affordable. Stop holding on to the past and start embracing change.

April 06, 2016 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that several concerned Grove residents have reached out to Mr. Russell to request his help in this matter and have yet to receive any response. Perhaps all of those posting here could arrange a meeting with him to champion this issue so that something positive to benefit our neighborhood is actually accomplished.

April 06, 2016 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with Anon 9:40. Anyone who sees the young families playing in Kennedy park or visiting the number of new restaurants and thinks the Grove is being "ruined" needs to have their head examined. The Grove is once again becoming a lively place with a future, in part thanks to these homes that allow young families to afford to live in a walkable, urban area that is close to downtown.

April 06, 2016 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very misguided editorial. There are no zero lot line homes in South Grove. They still have the same setbacks (20-20/5-5) as before and those subdivided lots still meet the minimum lot requirement (50 feet frontage/5,000 sqft minimum). If someone has two plotted lots which meet the min lot size requirement, who are we to say that person should not use it as two lots? Also it is Braganza not Barganza. Miami 21 increased density in some of the zonings (not in single family) but also took away the "gross lot area calculations" which was adding +/- 25% to the buildable area anyway. Only height restriction that is subject to "variance" in West Grove is the stairwell for roof top terraces in duplex zoning (T3-0). Otherwise they are not building a third floor. City denied the zoning change for the 22+ site project on Grand Avenue (glad they did) which would have given the developers extra floor and as a result project tanked few years ago. Tree code enforcement has been the toughest in Coconut Grove in the past 20 years. It takes months to get a tree permit (at times) for trees that don't even have to be mitigated (where City actually makes you cut the tree if you are applying for building permits). You can't even trim your trees for hurricane season without a code enforcement officer showing up to check up on you about the % you are allowed to trim. Now I am sure they don't have 100% code enforcement success and some people fall through the cracks and get unnoticed but no one can catch all the violations, not even Gables.

April 06, 2016 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most developers and homeowners are more than willing to pay a penalty for cutting down an old growth tree if it suits them to do so. It only a few bucks and the price of doing business and getting what they want built. The only way to stop it is to increase the penalty 10-50 times and make sure they know that this will take a hefty toll on their bottom line. A large enough penalty may possibly dissuade them from reducing our tree hammock.

April 06, 2016 11:28 AM  
Anonymous swlip said...

I don't think it's greed so much as simple, market economics. Older Grove houses were originally built as winter vacation cottages, not permanent residences. They are fine for childless couples, but I an tell you from personal experience that raising children in a 1920s Grove cottage is not easy.

And then there is the commute factor. People no longer want to spend two hours or more a day commuting to areas where houses are typically larger. They want to be in a pleasant neighborhood that is closer to downtown, Brickell, and MIA. And they want to have more time with their families, before and after work.

As you suggest, completely renovating a 1,400 foot house makes little economic sense, especially given that the banks won't fund a construction loan unless it's for new, ground-up construction (I've been learning this the hard way, too).

So, while these newer homes are not aesthetically appealing, they reflect market demand.

April 06, 2016 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be the nail in the coffin for a whole neighborhood if a multi unit is to be built on Braganza. Families have been living peacefully on that street for three generations. I think Commissioner Russel has to look in the whole permitting process in the Braganza case and other monstrosities in the area to add ordinance to fine developers who willfully get away with such zoning and permitting corruption and demand the firing, demotion or severe reprimand of any zoning and permitting official who allows builders to get away with building monstrosities in South Grove that are slowly making our neighborhood congested, ugly and unfriendly.

April 06, 2016 11:57 AM  
Blogger im4eva said...

Ugly is right! How can we contact, can you provide an address to send a letter? Thanks

April 06, 2016 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out the situation on South Bayshore Drive across from the entrance to the Mercy Hospital ER where a developer tore down an old cottage that sat across two lots and in total violation of Miami 21 built THREE new homes (one of the lots is shy of 50 feet wide). Plus, almost every tree was demolished. Was the city asleep at the wheel, or...??? So far, there have been no buyers because the homes are squished up against each other and it's nearly impossible to enter and exit the property at that location due to traffic and cars speeding by. A good profit might have been in the making but the homes have been sitting empty for a year so I doubt there have been any winners. Sad to see a beautiful piece of property decimated.

April 06, 2016 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It isn't just the Grove, but other historic neighborhoods like Shenadoah, Silver Bluff and The Roads that are experiencing construction of new homes that are of character with the existing neighborhood. All Miamians need to get together and demand better from our city and city officials.

April 06, 2016 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To The Original Poster Of The Comment:

You clearly have very little understanding of zoning, platting, economics, real estate or buyer demand. I do not say this to insult you, I say this because an editorial containing false facts has a negative impact in our neighborhood. Please take time to educate yourself on these topics prior to posting inflammatory comments about the City officials or Developers intended to rile up the neighborhood.

This text box does not provide enough space to address all of the issues I have with your post or to delve into the issues presented.

Most of the developments you are referring to are zoned single family. The developers are simply separating folios of pre-platted lots and building what they are lawfully allowed to build, additional single family homes NOT multi family dwellings on each parcel.

Not everybody who wants to live in the Grove can live in a $3-5 million dollar home, and if you look around 99% of the lots in the North or in South Grove are smaller lots (5k - 6k sq ft.). The larger lots that are being subdivided and developed consist of the these smaller lots which were platted in the 20s. While I agree that I dislike a lot of design and the "overbuilds", a lot of new homes coming into the market appeal to young new families with children who can afford these homes.

What does this mean? Invigoration and a breath of life into a neighborhood that was basically dead a few years ago, more customers for all of the new businesses coming into the grove and hopefully the attraction of other new businesses. A safer neighborhood filled with people who care about community. More tax dollars which will hopefully be spent wisely (which is a side issue), The organization of more neighborhood events.....This is the future of the Grove.

One of the the real issues presented is responsible development and building homes that are mindful of the lot size, trees, neighbors and nature.

Instead of posting one snippet of the zoning code in your "call to arms", I suggest you post something constructive rather than something intended to piss people off.

anonymous Grove resident with children who loves the neighborhood

April 06, 2016 3:21 PM  
Blogger reid prevatt said...

A lot of you seem to know everything. Building will happen as the grove is attractive and close to downtown. One thing that does bother me is you people with strong opinions do not share your name. Personally why even write it as you seem to care and you would help if people new who the hell you were. Makes sense to me and Jobie who says a lot.

April 06, 2016 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re Anonymous 3:21 PM.
Most of the folks that post here have little appreciation and understand for our Miami-21 Zoning Codes. Needless to say our newly elected District-2 Commissioner and those that supported his campaign also have very limited appreciation and understanding of our Miami-21 Zoning Codes. Regrettably its more or less like the blind leading the blind. It's a shame that Teresa did not withdraw sooner, so at least the one candidate with zoning code knowledge might have had a better chance in the run-off. By the way, the reason why so many comments are posted anonymously is because most Grovites don't want to be saddled with the stigma of being considered as treading water in the deep end of the gene-pool, like that of some of the usual suspects. Please reach out to Mr, Russell and arrange a meeting with you and your concerned property owners. Would be really nice if he responds and actually champions this cause.

April 06, 2016 5:17 PM  
Blogger reid prevatt said...

Mr Russell cannot change zoning by himself overnight nor can any other commissioner. AGAIN being a silent bitcher is no good. Mr Russell needs a lot more help and fire than this stuff. The train has been going for a long time and will continue. How that ass from Terra bought the parking Garage I have no idea. Now that gets me irked.

April 06, 2016 9:39 PM  
Blogger Mark Weiser said...

All new construction should conform to a Coconut Grove aesthetic. So much looks like it was plucked out of Kendall or Anywhere, USA. This would go a loooong way towards all sides being happier than what has been going on for the last ten years. When I'm in the Grove, I want to feel like I'm in the Grove.

April 07, 2016 1:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greed has survival value which is why it is so prevalent in humans. In order to make sure an individual's greed does not result it them taking someone else's stuff we have laws, like zoning regulations. Greed which violates the laws usually constitutes theft. That is what is happening when developers violate the ncd-3 prohibition on increasing density. They take away the property rights of existing owners by overburdening a congested infrastructure and changing the sub-urban character of the neighborhood.

April 07, 2016 9:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:17 hit the nail on the head. We had someone running for the commission seat that could tell you all about the corruption going on down at P&Z, but this spot is usually reserved for a white, non-hispanic male. It didn't matter that Johnny McMansion Winton supported Russell, or that nobody noticed Russell signs going up on construction sites such as the one on Battersea and Ingram Highway and then quickly and quietly removed. People in the Grove decided he was the person that would save us all. Everyone was willing to overlook all of this and more, including his voting record or his failure to become a true activist by standing up for all the parks, not just the one that was lowering his land value. My prediction: Russell will ride out the next four years placating the voters with photo opts and empty promises until re-elected. Then he will become another Sarnoff. The Grove falls for it every time.

April 07, 2016 9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken Russell is a ghost... a memory... a fart in the wind.

Also, this article is 20 years late. The zero lot buildout started in the mid-1990s.

10 more years, few "regular" houses. In 20, brickell will extend the lejune circle.

April 07, 2016 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some one should start a petition. Hello someone? Wake up.

April 07, 2016 5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Join the club. We have the same problem in South Miami. Our so called "green mayor" Philip Stoddard is an advocate for high density, small lots, lot splitting, removing old growth trees, and satisfying development interests. The area developers support his efforts and reward him with big campaign contributions.

April 07, 2016 9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are several billion individuals who deserve the designation, more or less, as LONERS. I.E., they are slightly off grid due to spending (mostly cash), financing, taxation, property owner or not, the difference being urban, suburbs or those who live outback, way outback, who conscientiously want no part of the rat race or connection to organized government(s), who raise and produce their own food stock. Those who cluster within urban centers pay more for such a privilege, are subject to harsh stress, have more health care issues and die early. But, I don't think these negatives affect most Grovites, 20/30/40 years ago or today. The Grove is still the Grove and a few carpet baggers won't change that fact. Jobie Steppe

April 08, 2016 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken Russel's name is being invoked - on many issues, as is appropriate. I searched using the words "How to invalidate a warrant or request for variance, Miami, FL". It's 2 pgs, that in my opinion states: Miami commissioners will find such an issue before them, only to vote, yes or no; i.e., after the project has moved forward and only after the issue has been brought before appropriate city agencies who have refused to halt or slow the project. And of course, this vote would be subject to appeal!? City tax paid attorney's would bill endless hours defending a City contract and therefore, the developer(s). Jobie Steppe

Search PZAB.6 - File ID: 15-01249zt

April 08, 2016 9:25 AM  
Anonymous swlip said...

If folks are interested in how real corruption (as opposed to the fanciful sort that predominates Grove conspiracy theories) impacts Miami's real estate market, I strongly recommend a number of recent articles on the connection between the Panama Papers scandal and Miami. The Herald had a pretty good one, recently.

The fact is that a lot of the current boom is being driven by cash-only real estate purchases, which have pushed real estate values far out of proportion to actual domestic economic growth. These cash-only purchases are being made primarily by foreign persons who use offshore companies and LLCs to mask the true identities of the beneficial owners. Many of the beneficial owners are cut-outs for corrupt officials who need a place to park their ill-gotten assets. Since the money is stolen, they don't care as much about price.

Things have gotten to the point that FinCen recently instituted a new rule requesting that title companies provide data on cash-only purchases in Miami-Dade County in excess of $1 million. This temporary rule is just to collect data on how to incorporate anti-money laundering rules to real estate transactions.

April 08, 2016 1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Real estate boom is sustained in Miami partially by banks sitting on tons of foreclosed real estate and not flooding the market too fast then taking the idle inventory as write off on their books.

April 08, 2016 4:02 PM  
Anonymous Mead McCabe said...

Good point Reid.

April 09, 2016 1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding anon 9:40, You either make your living by promoting increased density, or you are a developer who greases the palms of politicians, or you are a happy politician having your palms greased. So which is it, lobbyist, city planner, developer, or politician? You have no regard for aesthetic or quality of life, only how many large, ugly homes can be built on very small lots. I look forward to the day when I can move away from this ruined paradise which has been destroyed by your kind. It is a travesty and all will be underwater sooner than you think.

April 10, 2016 12:15 AM  
Blogger Your Neighbor said...

re anon 3:21
These subdivisions: 4384 Ingraham, 4200 Grove 3737 Justison appear to be completely against the spirit and the letter of the current zoning code:http://www.miami21.org/final_code_May2015.asp
Appendix A-3 page 17 "The single family residential district is intended to protect the low density residential and dominant tree canopy characteristics of Coconut Grove and prevent the intrusion of additional density, uses, and height." and under section G on page 18 "Wherever an existing single-family residence or lawful accessory building(s) or structure(s)is located on one or more platted lots or portions thereof, such lots shall thereafter constitute only one building site and no permit shall be issued for the construction of more than one single-family residence except by Warrant.... No building sites in existence prior to September 24, 2005 shall be diminished in size except by Warrant,"
Checking for warrants on these properties www.miamigov.com/planning/notifications.html reveals that none exist.

April 10, 2016 7:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just when I thought I knew some law, statue,
regulation or title, causing me to file some lawsuit or complaint only to find out later in court that some other law, statue, regulation or title, related to some other precedent case ruling that makes null & void everything I thought I knew. There's a law on S. Beach law books that read if you share a hot dog or wear a Bikini you can be arrested. You can say good morning to a cop and get arrested if the officer so chooses. In other words you won't find these WARRANTS on the books from your home, library or V.A. wifi computer connection. You'll have to pay for a search at the records office, in person and pay $10.00, per search. I filed a fake one, but couldn't find it for 3 months until I paid for this type search. And at our records department, hell, anyone could walk in, i.e., walk in with a quit claim deed, filled out with fictitious names, who thenm sells said property. Recently millions of homeowners lost their homes and millions more were paying mortgages valued 200% higher than their homes were worth. Florida is the 1st state to put a high wall between lending institutions and high priced homes, auto's and advanced pay checks, can't payoff a loan with another loan, etc., etc. & etc and more. Florida is a U.S. leader in protecting it's citizens from excessive interest rates and predatory lending, including WARRANTS, that are presently hidden from the general public. Otherwise you folks wouldn't been complaining at these ugly homes taking up all the property leaving no yards for their dogs and cats to soil, so they go to a grass-less environment paid for by all the taxpayers!?

April 10, 2016 12:39 PM  

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