Palmetto Bay residents have reason to keep a close eye on Mayor Stanczyk, who has recently demonstrated that she is willing to sponsor removal of a protective covenant in the name of unrestrictive development. Homeowners used to feel secure in zoning decisions when a covenant was put in place to protect them well into the future. I believe I recently read something on the Eye on Miami blog where it was stated “There ought to be a law. Oops, there is and Mayor Shelley Stanczyk of Palmetto Bay thinks there is a creative way around it. That’s what our lawmakers do: dodge the laws.”
The post continued, begging the question as to whether readers were starting to feel like they were back under the Miami-Dade County zoning system, where protective covenants are far too often set aside in favor of developers. Well, just when you thought things were different in Palmetto Bay, Mayor Stanczyk introduces government by the developer, for the developer, leaving many residents to wonder what went wrong with our local government. “Neighborhood protection” appears to have been replaced with ‘building our tax base.’
What happened? According to a circulated Email: “At a July 21 Palmetto Bay zoning hearing, Village residents learned of a proposal to develop the 22 acre forest at the former Burger King Headquarters along Old Cutler Road. This proposal requires changing the Village’s Comprehensive Plan designation of the forest from parks to a new designation to allow construction of 41 houses in the forest. The forest includes a large area of critically imperiled pine rockland. Trying to save remnant pine rockland is, of course, not a new battle in Miami-Dade (ie. Walmart/University of Miami). This is a special case. There is a legally binding covenant that applies to this forest. It protects nearby residents. To change the underlying land use, the covenant currently requires a referendum and 75% voter approval from Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay residents to the west who live within 500 feet of the property. This zoning covenant is not enforced by the County. Only by the Village.
Under the covenant, the referendum to obtain a minimum of 75% voter approval is only required if the application is submitted by the property owner.” So what does Mayor Stanczyk do? In the same year her family members have incorporated at least two construction companies located in Palmetto Bay; she becomes more than a cheerleader, she actually SPONSORS the change, becoming the actual applicant, which robs the residents of their protections of the covenant.
The plot thickens further. This was not a straight up application. The bait, no, the distraction, was a proposed fire station. The mayor sent out an e-mail the day prior to the scheduled hearing making reference only to an issue relating to Palmer Trinity School and the fire station, but suspiciously no foreshadowing of her sponsorship to allow 41 homes into a previously undisturbed and protected natural habitat:
“Tomorrow night, July 21, 2014 at 7 PM there will be a Zoning Hearing with applicants: The Palmetto Bay Village Center and Palmer Trinity School. Links to the applications and you can watch on WBAY (77 or 99) or on the website live. This application from the Palmetto Bay Village Center includes the re-zoning for the planned Fire Station to serve the south end of Palmetto Bay.”
Deception indeed! Those reading the e-mail surely stayed home, unware of the proposal to pave over native areas. After all, who wanted to argue against a fire station, as area residents were waiting to see 3 years of inaction on this issue by Mayor Stanczyk end, this site having been selected by the original mayor and council dating back from 2003 – 2009.
Thankfully watchdogs caught on to the trick in time and a firestorm erupted in the form of e-mails, blogs, even an online petition to stop this madness of more development in native areas. Mayor Stanczyk was forced to abandon this ill-conceived plan, at least until after the election. For now the fire station, the bait used for the homes remains unresolved, ironically as this mayor claims credit in her campaign for 2 new fire stations – specifically claiming them as “mission accomplished” in 2014. The truth is that the fire stations remain elusive. The property remains yet to be purchased by Miami-Dade County in 2014. There is no rational claim to any new fire stations becoming operational or even under construction in 2014.
Welcome to Palmetto Bay, a place spinning out of control under mayor Stanczyk where the truth and covenants seem to be ignored. Those who truly want “neighborhood protection” would be best served by replacing mayor Stanczyk in November.