Rezoning for Eight-Story affordable housing fails

By Kimberly Porter….
Carlisle Development Group’s first step to rezone a city owned piece of property for an eight-story residential building failed approval by a 5-3 City Commission vote February 2.

Item 24 on the agenda proposed rezoning the property located at 5890 SW 69th Street after Carlisle’s recent meeting with the planning board to fine tune the proposal.

Re-zoning would allow an eight-story affordable housing building with 90 units designed for seniors (aged 55 and over, earning up to $30,000 per year).

The rezoning ordinance read at the meeting was not accompanied by a site plan, leading to a commission rejection, even though the Carlisle Group would not necessarily win a bid to create a plan for the new structure.

“We’re here to help facilitate the rezoning,” explained Melissa Harrison, representing Carlisle. “We believe that in terms of rezoning it opens the doors to more opportunities for the city. It is something that can be done in a way that maintains the character of the city.”

Some residents voiced concerns with the height and density of the building that would create the tallest in South Miami. “Remember that citizens didn’t like over development,” stated Bob Welch during a public response. “We need an elder care facility that is not that big,” he added.

“I have conflicting feelings on this,” said resident Beth Schwartz. “ If you are to vote for up-zoning it, which would make the property more valuable, I don’t want to see it go out of control with density.”

Other residents supporting an elderly housing project included Roxanne Scalia who commented: “I just had to move my mother in with me (and) was never before aware of the plight of our elderly. I hope you vote ‘yes’.”

Commissioner Walter Harris wanted to see an acceptable site plan along with the zoning request while Mayor Philip Stoddard thought “the mixed vote reflects a continuing need for information and constructive dialog among the city residents and commission members.”


Planning board member Yvonne Beckman was ordered out of the February 2 City Commission meeting by Mayor Philip Stoddard.

Her ouster occurred when Beckman interrupted the introduction of a Baptist Hospital representative, Mayor Stoddard immediately ordering Beckman to leave the room.

Baptist Health in conjunction with South Miami Hospital sent the representative to the meeting to answer residents’ questions and concerns about its medical center.

When Beckman protested Stoddard’s action, saying “I will not leave,” Stoddard called on security to escort her from the meeting.

Commissioner Walter Harris moved that Beckman be allowed to return to speak during a public remarks session which he indicated was her reason for being present. His motion passed 5-0.

When Beckman returned, she said “Hello…I’m a South Miami citizen,” noting she felt “other entities other than the residents in South Miami get the attention.

“Don’t kick me out again, please,” she continued. “You have your humor and I have mine,” adding she wanted to know the “cost benefit” of the Murray Pool project.

Resident Sharon McCain stated: “We have waited months to see a maintenance cost [for the pool]. At the end of five years, we’re going to be with a pool we can’t afford to maintain and that is extremely bad planning.”

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