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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Oversized houses are being built all over the Grove

There is a single family lot on Ingraham Highway, across from the San Souci neighborhood that has one old house on it. You can see the image from above here. Now the house has been knocked down and a bunch of new houses are filling up the plat of land.

Miami 21 states"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.” Developers are violating the code and no one in the City of Miami or the Grove seems to care when complaints are filed.

Seven neighbors from the South Grove, and a representative from Comm. Ken Russell's office and another from the Coconut Grove Village Council met with Miami City Assistant Attorney Amanda Quirke Hand last week. She said that three single-family lots in the South Grove have been divided into multiple building sites and neighbors were correct when they said that this is not legal. The code says:  "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."

But with this project, apparently, it was never platted because it was part of a large grove and a warrant was not needed. The planning director approved this with no regard to the surrounding neighborhood. A "mini village" in the center of single family homes on leafy Ingraham Highway. 

The City knows about quite a few sites that should not have been allowed, what will they do about them? Do they have permits? They are already being built. Where are the city code enforcement people? Pocketing bribes maybe?
Water, sewer, traffic and quality of life are affected by this. There is quite a major density problem when putting in a mini village on a single plat of land. What bothers me, too, is that many of our local realtors don't care either (not all, but many), they have their names on properties still under illegal construction, so happy to make a quick buck not caring about quality of life, or illegal structures. 

Commissioner Ken Russell told me, "I understand what the code says, but once a property goes through the process and is approved, it’s no longer 'illegal.' There needs to be more vocal opposition at the public hearings."

The problem with this is that there are NO public hearings. There is no warrant on these locations, which is dictated by code.  If there is no warrant, there is no notification, which means neighbors don't know about the upcoming projects, nothing is posted, there is no chance to file a complaint or appeal. These projects have been underway for two to three years, but just broke ground recently. What happened two to three years ago? Who was paid off to approve these illegal secret projects?

People need to be accountable and fines need to be raised. Taking one tree down illegally should be fined $20,000 per tree, not $2000. And putting more than one structure on a one plat lot should consist of the structures being knocked down, just as easily and fast as the original house has been taken down.

The Village Council will be discussing these zoning issues at Wednesday's meeting (April 20), 6 pm at the Glass House in Peacock Park.

Another meeting is at Plymouth Church, 3400 Devon Road, on Wednesday, April 27 at 7 pm. 

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Blogger Your Neighbor said...

Interesting sign, It says the lots are over 10,000 square feet. How can you divide a 1.01 acre lot and get 5 over 10,000 square foot lots? 43996/5=8,799 So much for truth in advertising.

April 20, 2016 7:29 AM  
Blogger dan said...

This needs to stop. Ken, we voted you in to stop this exact situation from occurring. The grove is losing its charm. From the house on loquat that cut down MULTIPLE old growth oaks and banyans, to the new 5(?) house development on battersea where before there was one house, this is ridiculous. We need heavy fines to be laid, inquiries into exactly what code enforcement officials have signed off (and why), and enforcement against the rampant corruption left in place by Sarnoff.

April 20, 2016 7:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Turning NE off 27th Avenue from the Peanut/Circle, onto tiger tail, just one block on the left, GOOD GOSH! Note the new construction, 2 stories, a big condo assoc I think. Then look at the older Grove homes; one story. The home owners can literally stick their arms out their windows and touch the CBS block walls where the new construction is taking place. Plus the old Grove homes, about 2/3 have absolutely NO VIEW at all, no sun after about 2:00 P.M.. And when it rains their properties will be flooded. And, an old friend lived next to M. Sarnoff across from the dog park. My friend told me that a friend of Mr. Sarnoff, a general contractor, purchased a home on the other side of his property, built a CBS fence between them and pointed his rain gutters to empty on my friends property. Marks and his friends home were graded higher than my friends home. He called me once for help. When I arrived my friends had 3 large pumps pumping out the rainwater, literally, his home and his property were under water, his furniture ruined, 2 family members were sickened. This isn't an isolated story. All of our streets are blocked in the early AM, noon and evening. Ali said in the Grape that about 200 businesses have started and closed during the past 12 months. And now the West Grove is just beginning. Jobie Steppe

April 20, 2016 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This posting is on point on what is happening in the Grove. We need to let city hall know and have those that do not do their job "Building and Zoning" held accountable for ignoring the laws and letting developers get away with anything they want. lets be real about this the developer themselves would not live in any of the houses they built because they know what they are doing and what is the final outcome. They make money and leave we get the extra traffic, houses built against the zoning, the existing house lose sun, privacy and the neighborhood loses its charm. It is starting to feel like a lego city build anywhere you can and just make it. I am sure if the developer would not like for me to buy the house next door where they live and build a 4 story house with roof top patio with zero lot and have them stare at my wall they would do anything to stop the construction. When this occurs we needed to speak up.

April 20, 2016 8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Collect the data on these illegal variances and warrants and send them all to the Governor's office.

April 20, 2016 9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There has been a lot of chatter about all of these "illegal" houses that are being built throughout the Grove but at the end of the day Tom has yet to provide any sort of zoning analysis or any specifics to what makes these developments "illegal" except for random excerpts from Miami 21. When asked for more information by several people, none has been forthcoming. You are allowed to subdivide/replat lots, especially ones that have been joined through a unity of title throughout the years. Replatting a single lot is a lengthy process but still legal. Once a single lot is replatted as long as the developments meet the setback requirements there is nothing illegal happening. I don't know the specifics, but it seems like the Grapevine likes to force their anti-development agenda and incite the masses without providing any solid information of wrongdoing.

April 20, 2016 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed anon 12:04, however, respectfully. The Grape is a blog mostly dedicated to Coconut Grove. It isn't a major news organization with investigative reporters. And making friends or going to Miami City Hall is akin to making friends with the fox in the chicken pen. Note that the print between the lines in many comments indicate although Grovites don't like what's going on with the land in 33133, it's not illegal and it no doubt does increase interest and readership, which is the authors job. Remember Grove Isle, where new construction was going to block the Northerly view of 3 existing high rise condos. Private island, island residents, everyone objected, so what? Additionally residents living on the road leading to Grove Isle complained a public road was altered to accommodate this project. Remember who won. Most of this stuff is simply legal. This is why Tom cannot provide proof of any unlawful activity.

April 20, 2016 12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story is 100% accurate, if you would like to see proof and legalities, please attend the Plymouth Church meeting on April 27. It will be all there along with city officials to corroborate it.

April 20, 2016 12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must agree with Anon 12.04. If we want stricter code enforcement, a Working Group needs to recommend specific changes to the ordinances. Telling City Hall "Do something!" is not specific enough for elected and appointed officials. Complaining is not leading.

April 20, 2016 3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are two issues here. Are SF lots being subdivided, if so, that is illegal per the conservation overlays and it needs to be addressed. the second one is as the title states - oversized homes are being built in the Grove. Unless you can prove otherwise most of them are totally legal with all permits. They appear oversized compared to the old Grove homes but they are the wave of the future. If you pay 1.0 million for a lot you're not going to build a one story home with 2000 SF for $200 per square foot. As long as they are legal and tree removal is mitigated then we must get used to it. The high price of the land in the Grove is the reason for building big houses so if you want the equity you have to live with the result, much larger and pricier homes.

I agree with the much higher fee of $20,000 per tree illegally removed !!

April 20, 2016 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is also that people do what they want and then pay a fine. That is hardly a deterrent, just an extra expense (if you get caught). Our neighbors decided to pave their driveway and parking lot with absolutely no notice and got it done in a single day before anyone could stop it. We literally got home from work and it was paved. That morning it was dirt with no indication anything was going to happen. Needless to say we have suffered some pretty big flooding where we had none before. I don't know if they even had to pay a fine but regardless they still have their paved parking and we have flooding. The water has no dirt to soak into, just runs off.

These are the kind of things that have been going on for a long time. Now with the huge condos and such on former single family lots it's just more visible. Fines don't help. Why isn't this part of the permitting and inspection process? These things should never be allowed to get built (Although I see no problem with the city removing the offending buildings either :-D).

April 20, 2016 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is representing the residents? Who is representing the long time stakeholders?

April 20, 2016 7:40 PM  
Anonymous Your neighbor said...

To anon at 12:04 The zoning code is enacted by the city commission passing ordinances they have the weight of, and are in fact laws. The code relevant to the south grove is contained in 6 1/2 pages. It is written in plain English. It is being violated. It says that if a lot was a single-family residence on Sept. 24 2005 the site shall thereafter be a single-family site. It doesn't matter how many lots the dwelling was on, or how many lots it has been replatted to, or the size of the lot. It says that no building permit should be issued for more than 1 single-family residence on this site. Look at 4384 Ingraham, 4200 Grove St. and 3737 Justison Rd. count the number of residences under construction on these sites which were formerly single family residences. Now empower yourself to make a judgement.

April 21, 2016 7:25 AM  
Blogger Lowell Kuvin said...

Manny Diaz wrote and pushed through the Miami 21 Zoning Code. Many of the matters that are complained about (no notice) were added (or subtracted from the old code) that now makes Miami 21 a developer's dream. The issue of "no notice" was a significant point in the West Grove Trolley Garage litigation. It would be a very good place to start changing Miami 21 so neighbors have the chance to voice their concerns before construction begins.

April 21, 2016 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I said in federal court "It's the written law", causing the judge to respectfully laugh loudly. He made eye contact with the Defendant's & their attorney's, still laughing and said "He thinks he knows the law" and looking into my brain he said "Here, I'm the law". Ken Russell noted that any and all paperwork is completed before reaching the commissioners, and that undoing said paperwork is highly improbable. And after any permits are issued it's official and automatically becomes lawful. I didn't know that until all of you folks made about 35 comments related to this issue. Some comments were from the normal nay Sayers, some are ignorant, but some were informative. Collect-fully, between the lines they indicated anyone who wants to challenge these so-called illegal building permits should do so the second one of us Groveites notices. Jobie Steppe

April 21, 2016 11:37 AM  

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