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Friday, June 03, 2016

Stopping lot splitting; one property at a time

Coconut Grove neighbors are banding together to fight City Hall. Actually, there was a meeting at City Hall on Wednesday night, where  Grove neighbors asked the City's  Planning & Zoning Department to do their job. The main issue was an all too common issue here in the Grove - lot-splitting - taking single family homes, knocking them down and building two or more houses on the single plat of land. The main scheduled meeting was a workshop for the Miami Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan Evaluation and Appraisal Review (EAR) of the Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board, where they discussed the future of Miami, but the "No Lot Splitting" people took over and that ended up being the main agenda. 

It's unfortunate that neighbors need to appeal each house and plat of land one at a time. Wednesday night the issue was with a house on the corner of Hardee and Braganza. The house is being torn down and the plans are to replace the one house with two houses. In the process, a 100 year old tree was taken down; a lady said the remaining trunk is six feet high, that's how large the tree was. Neighbors put pressure on the developer, Eduardo Goudie, and it worked, the developer admitted that the appeal has cost him a lot of money, by making all the changes and hiring architects to change the plans, etc. So money may be the bottom line in cases like this. 

Two principle speakers, both Johns, John Snyder and John Dolson, who live across from each other in the South Grove neighborhood, did their homework on the subject. They had well thought out PowerPoint presentations of the demolitions which are an every day occurrence in the Grove these days. They had facts, figures, photos, diagrams and spoke eloquently. Neighbors helped the Johns to get signatures and draw interest in the issue. A few audience members spoke and Commissioner Ken Russell was present, but he did not speak.

Neighbor Harry Gottlieb spoke, he stated that, "This all came about because of concerned Grovites. It must not be necessary for us to arrive at City Hall to battle each project. It is up to Planning & Zoning to obey our laws and protect our neighborhoods." The audience applauded with gusto to Harry's statement.

In the end, Mr. Eduardo Goudie, the developer, who planned to build two houses on the corner of Braganza and Hardee acquiesced to building only one in the end, but I wonder if he can be trusted, you may remember that Mr. Goudie had planned to destroy the house on St. Gaudens recently, until neighbors stepped in. Maybe this haunting by Grove neighbors will chase Mr. Gaudie away from future Grove destruction.

The Johns and audience insisted on a covenant. 
There is no covenant as of today, the PZAB continued the hearing to July 20 in order to give the developer time to offer a covenant, they were leaning toward granting the appeal.

"They do not have an approved Waiver for demolition yet, they were neglecting the property (demolition by neglect) but since the code enforcement cited them they will have to clean the property up or pay a fine of $250 per day. Our plan is to pursue a secret strategy to ensure that the code is followed in the future and to require that the zoning errors we exposed are corrected according to the Miami 21 code," says John Snyder.

Too many properties are being destroyed because the Planning & Zoning Department just doesn't care. I've been told by many that they allegedly work on bribes, but I have no proof. Yet.

"The errors we have brought to light must be mitigated to not allow further construction of additional residences at Battersea Woods and at Harding Oak Grove," says John, regarding the Miami 21 oversights when it comes to these projects.

"Waivers have been used to circumvent the intent of the code, further building four homes on what should have been one single-family building site is not a minor deviation," says John.

The main questions for the city now are: how will they ensure that the usage and density comply with present zoning codes? And this goes for every property.

Will the city agree that no permit will be issued for construction of more than one single family residence be built on the subject property? They say yes, but again, what about all the other properties?

"We owe a debt of gratitude to our two Johns efforts for their research, knocking on doors, meeting with P&Z, Comm. Russell and the City Attorney as well as officially filing an Appeal to halt the demolition to prevent the split zoning until this issue could be addressed." said Harry Gottlieb.

There is a Save the Grove Facebook page here. Please join it to stay informed.

Photos by Rafael Gutierrez

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...

We need to demand that our City Commission and the City's Auditor General investigate the zoning errors brought to light in Wednesday's Planning and Zoning Appeals Board meeting. This is particularly important based on the remarks by Mr. Devin Cejas, and Mr. Goudie. Someone needs to be held responsible. If these are the result of errors, people need to be retrained, or replaced. If they are the result of corruption, people need to be fired and or prosecuted. The Planning, Zoning, and Public Works departments cannot be allowed to break the law with impunity, they cannot be allowed to conspire with developers to circumvent the law. It is apparent to many that there is something seriously wrong at the highest levels with regard to the functioning of the Planning and Zoning function in this matter.

June 03, 2016 8:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great job fellow Grovites!!!!. It is a great thing when the neighborhood and the ones that care about the quality of living stand up for what is right

June 03, 2016 8:32 AM  
Anonymous Debbie Dolson said...

Thank you for helping to spotlight this important issue, Tom

June 03, 2016 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos and a big thank you to both Johns and Harry G (and Tom too) for the real work, time and effort you have and are putting in to the Save the Grove effort. It is much appreciated and supported by an old time (40 years) Groveite.

June 03, 2016 5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember awhile back when people couldn't build or renovate because of toilets/plumbing issues? Why isn't the same scrutiny being used to contemplate turning a single-family dwelling into a fourplex?

$250/day is gravy for a developer that tacks the cost onto the next homeowner. And the tree butchering has got to stop - that canopy serves as protective cover. No halving the fines - they should be doubled.

Thank you to the Johns!

June 03, 2016 6:55 PM  
Blogger Mark Weiser said...

The Demolition Permits for Tobacco Road were pushed through with a $4,000+. Bribe.

June 04, 2016 1:02 AM  

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