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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Village Council; back where they belong

I was thrilled to be at a Coconut Grove Village Council meeting back at City Hall on Friday night, The Village Council has not met in City Hall since they were asked to vacate in 2009. Thanks to Commissioner Ken Russell and his staff, who worked along with the City and Village Council, they are now back at their rightful home. The meeting was not televised, but it will be when things are worked out.

Ken's office welcomed the council back in a sweet way, there were signs saying "Welcome Back" around the chamber and "Welcome Back," the theme song from Welcome Back, Kotter, played on a loop as people entered for the meeting. Really nice and thoughtful.

Kate Callahan ran the meeting, she said that since the Village Council is an elected body and not a homeowner's group, there is still a debate about them being televised, but hoped to work that out by next month's meeting. The City has to stop being closed minded about this. They stole the Grove in 1925, the least they can do is give them a couple of hours of airtime once a month. And hopefully, they'll get a more prime-time date, rather than on a Friday night. 

A big part of the meeting was about the over-development and tree canopy in Coconut Grove. So much of it has been repeated these past few months but something needs to be done. Ken Russell's office is working on clarifying lots of the Miami21 issues regarding NCD2 and NCD3 (2 is Village West and 3 is the rest of the Grove) the NCD stands for Neighborhood Conservation District.) but no conservation is going on these days.

Two neighbors who have been very involved with the zoning issues, John Snyder and Grant Sheehan spoke about the issues. John did most of the talking, with a powerpoint presentation. John said there are clauses about architectural style, especially in NCD2, and they are not being followed. Single family sites must remain single family sites, no matter what the lot size is, according to John. Overcrowding of multiple homes on one site is not permitted. And the destruction of the tree canopy in the process is not permitted. But developer scoot around the law.

John said that these new houses and buildings going in are redesigning the original city plans one house at a time. It adds to traffic and the carbon footprint. It affects water and sewage.

Only one warrant in six years has been approved. The developers work around it, they get additional folio numbers from the county, so they turn one folio into four, and then the City gives them four separate permits.

This needs to be changed. Ken mentioned his issue with the City Attorney and said there will be changes.

Palo Alto, California, recently turned down Mark Zuckerberg's request to knock down homes to rebuild a large compound, which is what these huge illegally built houses are doing in Coconut Grove. We need to be more like Palo Alto. Just say no.

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