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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Battersea Woods re-platting denied by Commission

A number of residents stood up before the City Commission on Thursday during the Public Comment Period and the consensus is that most Grovites feel that the NCD3 (Neighborhood Conservation District) laws are not being enforced which is destroying the character of Coconut Grove. PH.3 is the plat for Battersea Woods.

The property is at  4384 Ingraham Highway. The one acre property is in danger of being split up to allow five large houses, destroying the tree canopy in its wake. Construction has already begun, we pointed out this mess of a property in April.


"Immoral" and "greed" were words used often to describe the developers, Palmcorp Development Group, who are said to be skirting the law.

"We, the voting public only ask that our laws are unforced." said one resident.

Many felt that City Attorney, Victoria Mendez, one individual, took the law into her own hands when it came to the Battersea property. She ignored advice given to her by many in order to accommodate the developer.

Why is the city ignoring it's own code to appease developers was asked by many.

The young lady who was being evicted, stepped up and spoke at the Commission meeting. Again, she started putting down the neighbors who are against new development. She didn't understand why people are fighting the new development since it raises property values in the area. She then claimed that it brings property values up so much that it has forced her out. So I am not quite sure what her reasoning is for being condescending to the neighbors, as development has affected her, too. It's all about quality of life. 

"Developing with a conscience," is how one lady put it. One man said that the City Commissioners need to start listening to the tax payers who elected them and pay their salaries.

Carlos Sosa, of Palmcorp Development Group, from Coral Gables, one of the developers of the Battersea Wood project spoke. He said that they had gone through all the laws and have gone through many obstacles. It's interesting that he is not trying this in his own hometown of Coral Gables, but here in Coconut Grove.  He claims that they are seasoned developers and have not used loop holes to conduct business. 

Paul Figg, the attorney for Palmcorp spoke. He says the warrant process does not apply. He says Miami21 does apply. He claims it is all legal. He says that all of the neighbors live on platted land that was not platted to begin with. And now the Commission should vote for the approval of the Battersea property expansion.

Our District 2 Commissioner Ken Russell, made a motion that the plat additions be denied for the Battersea Woods property. He moved that the plat be denied because it did not go through the warrant process and neighbors did not have a chance to appeal the development. Of 13 cases in the Grove now that have lot splitting going on, Ken's office did an investigation and they found that all 13 were not done properly and the properties bypassed the system and are being built illegally. Once concrete is poured, the error cannot be rectified according to local laws.

It's too late for six, the remaining seven will be dealt with.

In the end, the motion passed 5-0. the Battersea Woods property re-platting was denied. A win for the neighbors. For now.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if...

...these particular Battersea Woods developers are good guys and a well-intentioned group of South Grovites are being used for the political drama of the new District 2 commissioner?

...the commissioner and his team who have avoided confronting housing and development issues for almost their entire year with no plans moving forward are now distracting everyone by going after this particular developer?

...the District 2 office has no plans to "go after" the real cases of abuse in development (just look at the West Grove) and hiding behind a media campaign?

...the developer's attorney is right and the District 2 commissioner is knowingly costing taxpayers millions by improperly infringing on development rights?

...the District 2 Commissioner is right about the zoning laws, about the city attorney running amok and is crusading against public corruption? Then how are these corrupt officials benefiting from their actions and where is the FBI with the handcuffs?

September 22, 2016 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This same developer carved up one lot into three on South Bayshore Drive across from Mercy Hospital. Built cookie-cutter houses and ripped out the trees. One lot does not even meet the minimum width requirement, yet the City approved it. Commissioner Russell should take a deeper look at why this was allowed.

September 22, 2016 5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I have to say is YAY !!! The Grove residents have prevailed. The Battersea Woods development is extreme, very extreme. 5 large houses on about one acre! That is so out of tune with a single family neighborhood. They may have obtained their permits legally because the NCD reads that you may not subdivide a "platted" lot; the Battersea Woods site is not platted; it has a metes and bounds legal description. However, it was sneaky to use that loophole and keep it very quiet until those neighbors caught on and good for them. The precedent has been set. Russell is doing this because the residents have been after him and he supports the cause. In other words, Grovites finally have someone on their side. So tired of the political BS - let's point out the white elephant in the room. It does not matter that the developers are "good guys" they could be criminals for that matter - the residents still don't want extreme development by anyone. They may have prevailed if they didn't get greedy planning 5 large homes to maximize their profits. I'm sure they will sue but the Grove will keep fighting and the South Grove group of residents appear to be relentless - Congratulations!

September 22, 2016 5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was a matter of time folks reigned in the ugly small lots. The developer and the the lawyer were thanking the young lady for showing up, perhaps developers of luxury real estate do have some significant social responsibility to offer affordable housing localy.

September 23, 2016 7:23 AM  
Blogger John Snyder said...

I think the development was completely against the zoning code for our Neighborhood Conservation District. The definition of a building site in NCD-3 takes precedent over other definitions in other parts of the codes. The Attorney for the developer cites the definition from the municipal code which does not apply to this site. The relevant code says no building site in existence on September 24 2005 shall be diminished. That means it must remain one site for one single-family residence.

September 23, 2016 8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's ask Trump to buy a lot next to the developer's home in Coral Gables and we are going to try to do exactly what he plans in Coconut grove right next to him.

September 23, 2016 9:13 AM  
Blogger Joni Goodman said...

I want to give Ken Russell credit for the outcome of this hearing. He is providing admirable representation of District 2. His handling of the hearing and his relationship with the city attorney was professional and adept. He doesn't deserve the criticism articulated from some who expect overnight resolution. This will be a tipping point for warrantless lot splitting and code violations. He will need everyone's vigilence and support to sustain this momentum.

September 23, 2016 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you to all that have supported this cause and special thanks to Ken for licensing to his community and being a true civic leader.

September 23, 2016 1:42 PM  

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