Approval of church garage to relieve Miller Road traffic

By Richard Yager….
Rezoning to permit a twostory, three-level parking garage has been approved for Alpha and Omega Church to alleviate illegal parking and traffic jams on Miller Road and neighboring streets near the Palmetto Expressway (SR 826).

A standing room crowd of more than 200 jammed the Kendall Village Civic Pavilion meeting room during a two-hour public hearing on Jan. 18 with a majority cheering a 6-0 decision by Community Council 12 Zoning Appeals Board approving garage construction on church grounds at 7800 SW 56 St.

Growth during the past 15 years, now estimated by the church at 2,000 members, has resulted in an overflow of illegally parked cars along nearby swale areas and adjoining neighborhood streets, primarily SW 77th Court and SW 57th Terrace, according to Alex Nunez of Doral, attorney representing the Latin Missions Ministries Inc., at the hearing with architect Felix Pardo of Miami.

A group of protesting residents said traffic during Sunday services and special holidays becomes a problem due to church proximity to the Miller-Palmetto interchange, as well as the south entry to Tropical Park, located north of Miller Road in the same area. An elementary school and day care center create daily traffic to and from the 5.6-acre site.

Development of a Planning Departmentapproved three-story, four-level garage to accommodate 655 vehicles was reduced to two stories and three levels when three council members — Angela Vazquez, Alberto Santana and Jorge Garcia — indicated objections to a 40-foot high structure.

During a 10-minute recess following those comments, Nunez and Pardo reviewed garage planning, later agreeing to revise the structure’s overall size to three levels not to exceed two stories with a 30-foot height at its highest point.

Its capacity will be refigured with “about 120 spaces” less than planned in the original garage, Pardo said later. Construction is not expected to begin “for at least six to eight months,” he added.

Once redesigned, the property will have about 740 to 750 on-site parking spots, based on an existing 330 surface vehicle spaces.

In addition to the garage, the approving vote will require the church to hire off-duty Miami- Dade police during primary service hours (Sundays at 8 and 11 a.m.) and on major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter) to direct traffic and patrol adjoining streets for illegally parked cars.

Council member Jose I. Valdes added trellised- climbing vines for the garage walls, in addition to a landscaping plan of oak trees to soften the structure’s appearance from abutting neighbors.

“Oaks grow slowly,” he noted.

Both a church and church school have occupied the premises since 1964 under various names, beginning with the “Miami Church of Religious Science” (1966) and “Gables Academy of Florida Inc.” (1972), each given modifications for expansion incorporated into Latin Mission plan granted in 1994.

Pardo and the church ministry had worked with the Miami-Dade Planning staff to gain approval for the garage with minor setback and lot allowance variations. No Miami-Dade agency objected to the garage according to a Planning Department analysis recommendation with conditional changes in lot coverage and a restriction to prevent spillover of garage lights on adjacent properties.

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