Zoning controversy erupts over former FPL property

Zoning controversy erupts over former FPL property
Zoning controversy erupts over former FPL property
The former FPL property in question

The issue of the former Florida Power & Light (FPL) property and its zoning as either Institutional (for a hospital) or E-1 (Single Family Residential) brought out a standing-room-only crowd of residents, officials, the developer and attorneys at the Village Local Planning Agency Meeting on Apr. 22. The meetings went on for more than four hours.

Mayor Karyn Cunningham in an email update to residents stated:
“As you are aware, in January, 2018, the council heard an item to zone the FPL property located at 6525 SW 152 St. for E-1 zoning designation. This item passed unanimously. Unfortunately more than six months passed and we had to start the process over again and the item was heard again at our Mar. 4 meeting for first reading. The property has since been sold to Luxcom.

“On Mar. 4, the recommendation that was accepted by the council was to refer these items to the next Local Planning Agency Meeting for a transmittal hearing to be followed by first reading, if it passes. These meetings are scheduled for Apr. 22 at 7 and 8 p.m., respectively. The zoning of this property has two parts. One is the Comprehensive Plan Land Use Amendment and the other is the Zoning Map Amendment. The first is legislative in nature and the second is Quasi Judicial in nature. Both require multiple hearings. There is also a requirement of a traffic study which has now been completed. We will be hearing the two items associated with the Zoning at the Apr. 22 meetings.

“While it had been rumored that Luxcom wanted to maintain the institutional zoning, it wasn’t until yesterday that we were informed by the m anager that Luxcom has withdrawn its residential application and instead, Yacht Club by Luxcom has informed the Village of Palmetto Bay, via Letter of Intent, that they will be submitting a site plan request for the development of a 200-bed hospital; complete with emergency service, helipad and future other uses. That notice was followed by a press release type article in the Community Newspaper announcing their intent. Their application will follow the usual zoning process and be reviewed by the Palmetto Bay Planning and Zoning Department.

“Additionally, yesterday after office hours, our attorneys were notified that Luxcom had also filed a lawsuit against the village challenging the procedures established at incorporation in our land development code.”

At the meeting on Apr. 22 village attorney Dexter W. Lehtinen said, “The lawsuit challenges the code that was adopted when the village was incorporated, its procedures, and I, and my law firm, is of the opinion that it is not well founded and is of no consequence.”

Vice Mayor John DuBois asked Planning & Zoning director Mark Alvarez whether the land in question could be filled in to raise it enough to affect the Flood Plain designation and allow for higher structures to be built there. Alvarez said he was not qualified to comment on environmental issues.

Councilmember David Singer asked if studies had been done to address residents’ concerns about possible toxic chemicals at the site. Alvarez again said he was not qualified to comment on environmental issues.

Councilmember Marsha Matson asked the village attorney whether traffic impact needed to be part of the deliberations. Lehtinen said it did not for the purpose of the resolution before the council at this time.

Scores of residents came to the microphone to voice their opinions on the issue, all of them concerned about either the impact on their neighborhood of additional traffic or possible toxic chemicals on the property.

In the pre-vote discussion, DuBois voiced a comment about the county’s Division of Environmental Resources Management (DERM).

“I was a little bit taken back by the comment from the attorney for the owners that they’re the only ones that know the DERM issues,” he said. “That only reinforces the testimony from the residents.”

DuBois then went on to ask Alvarez about whether the owner had actually submitted a full site plan for the hospital (Alvarez said the owner had) and then asked the village attorney about the State of Florida’s Bert J. Harris Jr. Private Property Rights Protection Act and if it could be used by the owner. Lehtinen indicated that it was a possibility but not a sure thing.

The council ultimately voted unanimously to pass the resolution returning the zoning to the E-1 (Single Family Residential) status, but this may still be subject to change in upcoming zoning hearings.

Below are links to the meeting videos:
LPA Meeting: http://palmettobay.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1214

Zoning Meeting:
Documentation about Luxcom’s Lawsuit against the Village of Palmetto Bay (a 63-page document) can be found at: https://www.dropbox.com/s/4oo0gd229xdrk4b/Yacht%20Club%20Complaint%20%28FILED%29%20%283%29.pdf?dl=0.

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