Is City Hall going down?

Is City Hall going down?The rush to destroy City Hall and build a new “free one” got a step closer a few weeks ago as Mayor Phil Stoddard led the charge for higher buildings with more density, when he convinced Commissioners Bob Welsh and Josh Lieberman that expansion with more uses is best for South Miami.

In opposition, Vice Mayor Wally Harris and Commissioner Gabriel Edmond took the advice from citizens who spoke out against a then littleknown plan to upset current zoning statutes. In addition, several citizens warned that according to the city charter five out of five votes are required to effect changes in the City Land Development Code, not the three-outof- five majority Stoddard’s and city attorney. Thomas Pepe have interpreted as legally permissible. Both steadfastly maintain the pending ordinance to liberalize this development requires only three of five votes to pass.

In a rare city hall appearance, former Mayor Horace Feliu, was contacted since he was one of the citizens who spoke out against the selling the city hall property and replacing it with a high density tower – with private spaces available.

“The decision to rush this poorly thought out agenda through with a threefifth’s vote ranges from devious to illegal,” declared Feliu.

“I realize that Stoddard has publicly stated that the five out of five vote requirement was a failed experiment by the voters of South Miami, but the law is the law.

Is City Hall going down?


“In addition, it is as silly to believe we will be getting a free city hall. Make no mistake, special interests, lobbyist and developers will end up with the lion’s share of the property and long-term taxpaying citizens will be left on the short end of the deal. Stoddard’s plan to ‘up zone’ a citizenowned property and sell it to a developer leaves out a major component:

“Shouldn’t the citizens of South Miami have a say as to whether or not they want to sell the property to a developer? And shouldn’t the citizens of South Miami have a say as to whether or not they even want a new city hall?”

During the recent commission meeting, a fact-challenged Commissioner Bob (Bobble Head) Welsh who had appeared to be following the former Mayor’s lead suddenly requested a new city hall building go on a ballot as a referendum. Several on the dais looked shell shocked at this turn of events, unable to believe such this about face position would leave the Stoddard- Lieberman duo looking silly.

Surely, Commissioner Bob’s newest position won’t stand as speculators expect Welsh to be convinced once again that he will forget what he then suggested. There’s one thing for sure: South Miami citizens will be on high alert for any more legal shenanigans as the saga continues.
It looks like the city is going up town by planning on installing traffic calming devices in the Mango Terrace, part of townwhich generally is around SW 67Ave., just south of Sunset Drive. There is even a move to put in some really cool bus benches on SW 59 Place, as well as on 62 Ave.

And speaking of 62 Ave., the property on the corner of Sunset Drive, which has a sign on it saying that a 60,000 sq. ft. medical building will open in 2018, just might be in for a change or two, as the owner of the property is facing some challenging times at South Miami City Hall.

Is City Hall going down?

Bob Welsh

The owner asked for, what seemed to be a small variance, but it needed four out of five votes to pass. Simple enough, but as the item was being discussed prior to the vote, it became abundantly clear that at least two commissioners, one being Commissioner Wally Harris and the other Bob “Bobble Head” Welsh would not support it and before ya knew it, the item was pulled. But don’t think that it’s gonna go away, as there is just way too much money riding on this project. The very valuable piece was recently purchased for a reported $8.8 million and is strategically nestled between two very large pieces of Baptist Hospital owned and vacant land where they plan to build some very nice medical offices.

Should be very interesting to watch this one play out and see what the commission ultimately does and what the developer will do it he doesn’t get that particular variance.

Got any tips? Contact me at 305-669- 7355, ext. 249, or send emails to

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About the Author

Michael Miller
Michael co-owns Community Newspapers with his brother Grant and serves as Executive Editor of the group of newspapers. He enjoys writing about local politics and area businesses. Michael can be reached at

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