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Monday, April 11, 2016

More on the overbuilding of lots in the Grove

I seemed to have hit a nerve when it comes to the over-development in Coconut Grove. People are not happy about single family homes being replaced by three, four and even five houses squeezed onto one small (or maybe not small lot).

There were a few people who seemed to find nothing wrong with it. But I would assume if every house that was sold turned into a five house mini-village, people would be complaining, especially if it was right next door to them.

Others commented without reading the whole story, I think. One of the comments that did not understand what I was saying is this one:

"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."

How is cramming a few houses onto a one house lot holding onto the past and being against progress? I doubt that person read the article but just wanted to bitch. I hate to see the old houses go, but I DO like the new clean, white boxy houses going in now. I know it's not "Grovey" but it is the future and I like them. I would like to possibly buy one, but I don't want to share the lot with three other houses squeezed in on the same plat.

And this is probably the same person commenting, agreeing with themselves as another person: 
"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."

Again, they didn't read the story, as we were not putting down progress or young families coming to the village, we were expressing concerns over the illegal structures being built and the city not doing anything about it. Many dwellings on a single family lot IS AGAINST THE LAW.

Another says I am wrong about the facts and that there are the proper setbacks and people should be allowed to fill up the lot with as many structures as they like. He went on to talk about height limits, which were not even part of the story.

Another person wrote about the "commute factor" of people wanting to live closer to downtown. Not sure what that has to do with breaking zoning laws.

I take consolation in the fact that so many people agreed to what I was saying and so many of you shared the story on Facebook and other sites and feel that breaking the law for no other reason other than greed should not be permitted.

For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What with all the loopholes, precedents, rules & regulations, titles, chapters, statutes, variances and Warrants, what lobbyist worth his salt couldn't find a way? I know a lady who guarantees that if she takes on any developers permitting that it will be passed. Now I'm not talking about constructing a 42 story condo on Gifford Lane. A federal judge said to me "Oh, you think you know the law, do ya, well, "The law is what I say it is". I won, simply because I was right. As I vacationed for 30 days my neighbor added a bedroom - - - - & 4 inches of his foundation crossed my property line. Three houses down a newly constructed McMansion roof poured rainwater onto his home and he placed three sum-pumps inside to remove the water from inside his home. My neighbor literally hired a company to place a rain gutter on the newly constructed home! I'd fight anyone for any wrong, but this housing stuff is straight out of Dodge City where anything and everything goes. Look at 27th Avenue, from Coral way to U.S. # 1 and on down to Bay shore around around the Grove Bank; must be a minimum of 1,500 units coming on line. Florida Power & Light wanting to run their lines down U.S. # 1, cars backed up every morning and evening, speeding down back roads, red light camera's everywhere, but it looks like a great mango and avocado crop, the wind is blowing cool off Biscayne Bay and U can still catch a few fish & lobster close to the Grove. Jobie Steppe

April 11, 2016 7:48 AM  
Blogger reid prevatt said...

But are these guys breaking the law/ They have to get permits and variances. Height limits is about greed too

April 11, 2016 8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Many dwellings on a single family lot IS AGAINST THE LAW."

But are many dwellings in a lot zoned for SINGLE FAM RES-CLUST-ZERO LOT-TOWN illegal?

April 11, 2016 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does the Miami 21 code allowing such monstrosities? We may need a blanket variance for Coconut Grove to protect single family home.

April 11, 2016 9:48 AM  
Blogger James said...

While I don't disagree with you, I think you and the commenters you mention may be talking past each other. I think what they are trying to get at is the lack of affordable housing in the Grove. While zero lot line multi unit housing is probably not the answer, there needs to be a way to get affordable "starter homes" in the Grove (to use the term starter home is still almost laughable, we bought our 2 bedroom single family home for 405. Not a starter home in most parts of America). I think what they are trying to get at is there needs to be a way to buy into the Grove lifestyle without having to shell out 700k for a 3 bedroom home. Having more affordable housing will keep the Grove feel and character we all love.

April 11, 2016 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IF someone was actually & literally breaking some law, any law, regulation, rule or statue they would face consequences. No one is actually making reference to some law being broken, people are only stating they don't like big homes or several homes on one lot. This has been a problem for humanity since CITY STATES were created, Rome was crowed. Loopholes were created using words and into the loopholes flows those who understand the ins and outs of construction law. Go to law school, or read a lot, every word and every nuance to every word and you'll just be wasting your time.

April 11, 2016 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"IF someone was actually & literally breaking some law, any law, regulation, rule or statue they would face consequences."

Ha! You must not live in Miami.

West Grove by Virrick Park has gone crazy in the last year, every other lot around Hibiscus/New York now has townhouses where the 'yard' consists of a tiny pool in the back and 100 sq feet of grass. It's totally lost any neighborhood feel and isn't good for the Grove "brand" going forward.

April 11, 2016 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it hard to believe that homes are being illegally constructed and then subsequently sold, financed, and insured.

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

Anon, 10:25. Not only do I live in Coconut Grove, I deal in real estate and have on occasion resorted to filing a complaint ONLY when I can find the law, statute, rule or regulation that fits the situation making any and all development; single family home or duplex opposed to some law. When I feel confident the square peg doesn't go in the round hole I sue. So yes, the work has to violate some law, rule or regulation, received no variance(s) or warrant and if so said project is in over their head(s) and very easy to quash, eliminate or destroy - otherwise leave it alone! Those lobbyist are extremely hungry to make their $25,000.00, monthly pay checks and they are anything but lazy and could care less who comments on what blog.

April 11, 2016 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

James, if you can find 3 bedroom single family homes in the grove for $700k, I'll take a dozen of them and retire on that profit.

The point being made, was that you cannot buy a house- I'm not talking townhouse or condo, but a house, for under 900k to a cool mil anymore. That's the reality.

April 11, 2016 12:14 PM  
Anonymous swlip said...

Part of the disconnect may be over whether we are discussing zero-lot line houses, or breaking down lots into multiple lots. It may surprise some people to know that many Grove houses sit on two lots. For example, my tiny house sits on two, 25-ft wide lots, not one, 50-ft wide lot. Someone therefore could, without a variance, build two homes on my property.

April 11, 2016 2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do we need to feel obligated to provide affordable starter homes in the Grove? Gentrification has happened - face it. The Grove is now an expensive place to live. If you need a starter home then feel free to look at a cheaper neighborhood. Why should you be entitled to live in the Grove? Sorry for all the bohemians out there, but this neighborhood isn't a hippie enclave anymore. It's professionals with young kids and good jobs.

April 11, 2016 3:20 PM  
Blogger James said...

The problem with an attitude like the one above is it is unrealistic and unsustainable. And if you can find a family of professionals with young children that can afford a 900k house, let me know how they do it. The Grove now (other than the townhouses in the center) skews much older because it's so expensive.

April 11, 2016 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The current zoning code passed in 2009 contains neighborhood conservation districts NCDs The south Grove is in NCD-3. The code for that district was written because our infrastructure was developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, over 100 years ago. We do not have 4 lane roads with curbs, sanitary sewers or much of a storm sewer system. Doubling the density here would be catastrophic!!!!
The new "affordable" homes they are building on these tiny lots have a price tag of 2,200,000. They do not have proper drain fields for 5 bedroom homes. The areobic septic systems they are installing have a poor track record for individual home installations.

April 11, 2016 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

- What percentage of home purchases in the Grove are cash deals?
- Of those, what percentage have closings or title documents in which the buyer is identified as an offshore corporation or LLC?
- For those where the buyer can be identified, what percentage are from countries that are at high risk for corruption and/or money laundering?

The real estate business in Miami-Dade County has been a hotbed of money laundering activity. This activity has been driving demand and prices far beyond what you would expect under normal market conditions.

April 11, 2016 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Battersea Woods, LLC (owners of the development 4384 Ingraham) hired a lobbyist in 2014 over a matter of "Platting and permitting issues":

I'm guessing they got what they wanted.

April 11, 2016 5:08 PM  
Blogger reid prevatt said...

Tom you bitch about other peoples comments mine included and the guy who mention height limits which is very much apart of this story, but start giving us proof about "breaking the Law." Also nobody mentioned that when a variance is asked for by developers, people are notified and how many people go down to the meetings and complain. All good places have this stuff happen and the Rome and New York comment was Icing. Sometimes you make no sense as everybody wants to live close to the water and you are pissed because you live in the Grove.

April 11, 2016 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a little truth in all these comments, i.e., a can of worms like this was opened since recorded history, i.e., the haves and have nots, i.e., the rich get rich and the poor get poorer, i.e., the weak shall inherit the earth, i.e., 7.5 billion humans and still growing - everyone needs a place to put their head down when the sun goes down. And not everyone can afford to live in our Grove.

April 11, 2016 11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The variance meeting thing was literally the second comment in that post.

April 12, 2016 12:07 AM  
Blogger Your Neighbor said...

If your site was a single residence in 2005 they cannot.

April 12, 2016 7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read the zoning code for Miami, which includes Coconut Grove. It's online. If you think someone is going against the code, contact Commissioner Russell's office and talk to them about their concerns. The zoning office is overwhelmed so don't wait too long, It is your right and privilege as a citizen. I have protested in the past and was able to stop an illegal use of a Grove property. So can you if your concern is warranted.

April 12, 2016 7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not exactly the same, but a citizen in the Grove, on Gifford Lane thought after observing Gifford, from Oak North, being repaved that the work was shoddy and began taking pictures sending them to Mark Sarnoff, which proved the asphalt began disintegrating within days. I joked with my neighbor respectfully, but in about 2 months Gifford was repaved and on the second try no disintegration took place. I guess the moral of this story is fight, fight & fight. Jobie Steppe

April 12, 2016 9:01 AM  
Anonymous Jack said...

I wish I knew how you did it. My concern is warranted and have had no luck after many trips downtown and getting no response from Mr. Russell's office

April 12, 2016 9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there's a lot of this going on around the grove without anyone even realizing it. Illegal multifamily structures being built. I live in the south grove which i dont see much of the overbuilding. However, i used to live in the north grove and i'm going to give a perfectly good example of this. The property on 1835 OPECHEE DR has about 4 different families living in different structures around the property. All renters. I remember always seeing new structures being built on the property and all the way up to the property line. From the outside, you really don't realize its going on. I don't understand how they get away with that.

April 12, 2016 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Charles Corda said...

At the risk of opening old wounds this is Sarnoff's legacy..
Higher density zoning is now written into the Zoning Code - Miami 21- for the Center Grove and West Grove.. What we are experiencing is the combination of a relaxed Code co-joined with the readiness of the City Commission to approve exceptions or what used to be called variances at almost every turn..The only way to change that is to change the code again and/ or Keep the pressure on the Commission to deny zoning variances.

April 12, 2016 1:08 PM  
Blogger James said...

I also wonder how many of the people making comments on here about the Grove "not needing affordable housing" and the Grove "not being for everyone" bought their house when it was 110k. It's easy to say when you got in cheap and now your house is worth 3 times what you paid for it.

April 12, 2016 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what the set back from the property line is for a swimming pool?

April 12, 2016 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Andy Parrish said...

My partner and I built 18 single family detached 3BR/2BA homes in West Grove between 1994 and 2004. Most were sold to 1st time low income families renting in West Grove for $110,000 or less.. We've now just finished a 3BR/3.5BA SFR at 106 Florida Ave which we have for sale at $659,000. Land costs and building costs and especially municipal fees have made new construction difficult and expensive. One way to get more "affordable" housing in the Grove would be to tweak Miami 21 to allow "granny flats" of no more than 350 sq. ft. to be added on single family zoned lots, in addition to the principal house. Parking and setbacks would have to be carefully considered, of course. Andy Parrish

April 12, 2016 3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bottom line is most new construction is making Coconut Grove crappy.

April 12, 2016 7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 feet

April 13, 2016 8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 FEET????? In a builder's wet dream.

Does anyone know what the set back from the property line is for a swimming pool?

5 Feet.

April 13, 2016 10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to this document, Miami 21 does not regulate setbacks on pools:

April 14, 2016 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy Parish makes a great recommendation. Granny flats fill a need, actually many needs. Maybe pro developer Ken Russell will research the issue?

April 18, 2016 6:32 PM  

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