Residents, property owners say City Commission plan is a ‘deathblow’

Grant Miller, Publisher

So what if a group of local folks have a beef against a developer. Seems they always get their way anyhow.

Not this time, however, if dozens of angry residents and property owners in Sunny Isles Beach succeed in nipping a City Commission plan in the bud that would effectively permit developers to construct 6,000 hotel units and 1,000 residential units within a tight two-block radius.

Not only is the proposed plan upsetting residents and affected property owners in Sunny Isles Beach, a coastal community which many residents believe is already overdeveloped, they say the plan will be a death blow to their quality of life.

To the many residents here who can do simple math, 6,000 more hotel units alone will bring over 12,000 transient hotel visitors and intense traffic to an already overcrowded barrier island.

“It’s totally insane,” says Raanan Katz, owner of several large shopping centers in Sunny Isles Beach. “In fact, it’s as blueprint for destruction of the quality of life for residents and will destroy the businesses of the tenants located at my shopping center (at Collins and 168 St.), because these visitors will cause intense traffic and end up parking in my shopping center.”

Despite strong opposition by residents and affected property owners, the SIB City Commission led by termed-out Mayor Bud Scholl is planning to revise the city’s Comprehensive Plan at public hearing scheduled on July 18 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall to permit developers to build more than 6,000 hotel units and 1,000 residential units in the area called the “Town Center District.”

The district is located on the west side of Collins Ave. and bordered on the south by Sunny Isles Blvd. and on the north by 172 St.

Many residents are also upset that Mayor Scholl and the members of the City Commission are essentially breaking campaign promises to prevent construction of high-rise buildings on the west side of Collins.

“The residents of our district need a mayor and commission that understand the massive challenges we have and who are willing to protect residents from more density on the west side,” said Maggie Gordo, president of Sands Pointe Ocean Resort Condominium, in an email (in the public record) sent to Mayor Scholl and the Commissioners.

“Now more than ever, our elected officials have to stand with their constituents who are suffering from over development of our beloved city,” she continued.

Also spelled out in the public record is apparent support by the commission on the side of developers. The plan to increase the development intensity in the Town Center District was initiated after property owners and residents raised strong objection to a proposed development called the Infinity Project at a public hearing on December 20, 2018.

This project would place 120 residential units, 220 hotel units, 22,560-square-feet of retail space, and almost 700 parking spaces on a small lot on the west side of Collins Ave. that is currently being used by the Newport Hotel as required parking for the hotel.

This project is located at Collins Avenue and westbound 826 West – considered by many as the busiest and most dangerous intersection in the city. In a video of the December 20 public hearing, Mayor Scholl was visibly upset when the majority of the city commission deferred a decision on the Infinity Project site-plan application.

After the hearing for the Infinity Project, many residents stated they feel Mayor Scholl is acting the part a proxy for the developer, primarily due to his continued push for the approval of the project despite strong opposition from residents – and even after being informed by a planning expert hired by Katz that the Infinity Project was illegal under the land use law of the city.

Because the Infinity Project cannot be approved under the current land-use law, the mayor and commissioners are now seeking to change the law contrary to the vision of the founding members of the City of Sunny Isles Beach.

“We promised the residents that Sunny Isles Beach would never become a concrete canyon with high rises on the west side of Collins Avenue,” says long-time former Mayor of Sunny Isles Beach Norman Edelcup.

“This plan to increase the development density and intensity on the west side of Collins is unacceptable to residents, especially where our streets and school are overcrowded. During my tenure as mayor, we kept our promises to the residents.”

It appears Mayor Scholl and city commissioners wish to leave a different legacy than that of former elected officials regarding the west side of Collins Avenue.

Ironically, Katz, who owns the most properties on the west side of Collins, is opposing the overdevelopment here even though he could stand to make millions of dollars under the proposed plan to increase development intensity on his properties.

“You learn from experience,” Katz continued. “And my experience tells me that over-development on the west side of Collins Avenue will be highly detrimental. I am always on the side of residents, not a fly-by-night developer who is seeking only to destroy our city.”

The State of Florida may also be on the side of the residents, seeing that the state rejected a similar plan to increase development density in the Town Center District in 2007.

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    • Who is the developer???? Give you a hint, has been purchased a lot of property on the beach side since 1999 ( I sold my unit at what it’s now The Porch). There is an Ave near Navarro in honor to the family name. He is a partner with Trump. Any questions?

    • All of you have to fill the Chambers and speak. You may be able to turn the tide. I hope you get the “no” votes that you need from your, Commission. If not, you need a good attorney to appeal the decision.
      Thanks to Grant Miller for keeping us informed.

  1. The traffic congestion on Collins is near insane. Walking on the sidewalk along Collins is a heart stopping experience. Adding more cars only increases the likelihood of pedestrian deaths.
    Collins was not designed for this type of volume … people vs cars

  2. I agree with you 100%. Like you said, Sunny Isle Beach is already over populated,if the City plan will be approved, then it will almost impossible to find parking space and also to drive via Collins ave. This Avenue is already packed WITHOUT the new City plan. We know that City mayor care only about tax money and not about Sunny Isles Beach resident. I moved to Sunny Isles Beach in 2004 from Miami Beach because of the heavy traffic there. Back then My family and I were so happy because of beauty of Sunny Isles, but unfortunately, since then the City approved any greedy developer to build more and more high rise building, and soon what the only view that the resident will have is the balcony or a window of the next building. This’ distressful and no right. I’m ready to help any way in order to STOP the City mayor madness plan!

  3. If this gets built, and I earnestly hope it won’t, the next big decelopment on the west side of Collins will be on the closed Epicure property including the huge parking lot behind it
    Why is this proposed project being done? Who profits from this density overkill? It takes 10 minutes to drive 1/4 mile on Collins now. Another Hallendale? No!

  4. The mayor and his cronies are corrupt and obviously on the
    Take to allow the massive over development of sunny isles
    In their zeal to rake in tax dollars and construction permits $
    It now takes me as long as 20 minutes to travel
    Collins ave from 172 street to golden beach
    The massive buildings on the east side of Collins
    Block out the sun on the beach by 1 pm
    I bought here twenty yeRs ago when SIB was charmingly
    Known as motel row!
    It’s gotten disgustingly overdeveloped
    Mayor Scholl should drive up Collins ave at night to see
    The dark canyon he has allowed to be constructed
    I wish some one could examine his finances
    To see how much wealth he has accumulated
    While in office

    • Please note this Lisa Gray is not the Lisa Gray from Porto Bellagio. The comments from this person do not reflect the opinions of Lisa Gray or Porto Bellagio.

    • That is a given. Of course they are on the take. once they get their money and leave office, they will move somewhere else to enjoy their millions

      • Sunny isles is over developed at this time.

        We don’t need any more schools we don’t need anything else we need to leave that way it is.

  5. Yes, why not? Mr. Miller, is the name of the developer a secret that the applicant is keeping from the public? If so, there may well be an ethics issue or something unsavory about the developer. I know of just such a situation in my city of South Miami. The situation is all documented by public record.
    If anyone is interested in the name of the developer they should call the City of Sunny Isles Beach City Hall and ask for the Planning and Zoning Dept.. The Planning Director should be able to tell you the name of the developer. You may get the same answer that was given in City of South Miami. We were told that the applicant will not disclose that information. This pertains to a particular application. There are some glaring irregularities involved. Maybe a similar situation exists in Sunny Isles Beach. Residents should go over the application(s) line by line with a fine tooth comb. The more you look, the more you see. These documents are available via a request for public information. Do it!

  6. I am on vacation in the summer out of state. I am a sunny isles resident at Winston towers. Is there any way I can protest without being physically present? I wonder if the commissioners are receiving any kind of compensation for this ruling.

  7. We are Canadian residents of Sunny Isles. We bought a condo many years ago in Sunny Isles because of the quality of life. This construction project is indeed awful! Already the traffic is dense …. we can not still push the sea to expand the Collins. Curiously, we noticed that several decisions are taken in the summer. So as owners we can not participate in City Council. finally we support you Mr. Katz 👍

  8. My parents are owners and residents before Sunny Isles existed. My husband and I are new residents and recent owners. I am horrified of the impact another 1000 residential unit/6000 unit hotel will have on the Sunny Isles Beach residents’ quality of life. It is shameful and appalling that an elected official would consider voting for such a subversive undertaking by developers over the needs of residents. Such a development will create not only much more traffic congestion, but more importantly a need for more classrooms, more police and more firefighters. We are hopeful that the vote on July 18th will be in favor of the residents of Sunny Isles Beach and not the pockets of the developers.

  9. We don’t need more traffic in the area. I have being leaving in sunny isles almost 19 years and 16 as a owner. My family and my daughters are growing here and we were very happy until this massive wall have being built in the offshore
    Now the plan is to do the west section
    Please vote NO to this plan
    Please respect the resident and our thoughts

  10. I moved to Sunny Isles Beach in 1999 when it was still mostly Motel row. In 2005 after Hurricane Wilma came through the city bought the land where the new school and Pelican Park are now. My condo is just a few blocks south of where the school is located.It has caused nothing but chaos with the traffic the unruly children that have no respect for the elderly. The children hog the sidewalks and walk into people Believing the sidewalk belongs to just them. In the past I’ve been hit by bicycles, scooters and skateboards. I am not a fan of our Mayor. Several years ago I complained to him about the signs on A1A prohibiting Skateboards, scooters and roller blades on A1A sidewalk. His answer to me was “he thought it should be allowed and was totally against the signs that are still posted.” Since then I’ve lost all respect for him. It’s only a matter of time before a senior or anyone gets hit or pushed into traffic. I say no to over crowding our beautiful city. It’s time to re elect new people to run our city government.

  11. We are California residents of Sunny Isles, we bought a condo 22 years ago here in Sunny Isles. In 1996 was a quite and nice place to vacation and retire. This project is awful. Actually the traffic is terrible at any time, worse than here in San Francisco. As owners we can not participate in City Council meeting next week (we are here in California) but we SUPPORT YOU Mr. Raanan Katz

  12. Max. and everyone else who can’t be there, you can and should write a strongly worded email and send to the entire Commission/Council.Ask that your email be read at the next meeting when the Commission / Council will be considering this item for an approval.Ask that your email be entered into the record in case anyone wants a copy of it.
    Maybe you can call members of the City Commission and let them know your position days before the meeting. All the rest of you who are in town should show up, pack the Chamber and speak at the hearing. Use your voice! If the Commission ignores you and still approves, chances are there is corruption involved. You can band together and hire a good lamd use atty to appeal the decision. It’s really horrible that some of our electeds turn against their own constituents and vote for gross overdevelopment when there is no concurrency to support more density. This definitely gives the appearance of corruption. The entire Southeast region is overpopulated and overdeveloped. Older property can be redeveloped in a beautiful way, with beautiful architecture and done within code. Those who ask for a different zoning category and major variances are looking for density that doesn’t fit within the surrounding area and this is all about maximizing profits with no regard to residents’ concerns and lack of concurrency.

  13. We are Canadian and bought our condo in 2010. We absolutely fell in love with Sunny Isles and enjoy our time there as do our children and grandchildren. All the recent developments have increased the traffic and density but we still enjoy our times when we come. All the wonderful parks and shopping centers add to the charm that we love. Please no more developments to add more noise, traffic and people. We are a small community and lets keep it simple and pleasant. SAY NO TO FUTURE OVERKILL DEVELOPMENTS.

  14. 20 years ago Sunny Isles was a Paradiso, now is a traffic caos, our beaches are dirty and the tourists are noisy; we still leave in a privileged place but please stop with constructions, enough is enough

  15. It is a shame that the people who are supposed to care the most about about que quality of life of the residents of Sunny Isles, are pushing to destroy it.

  16. Who is your city manager and who is the city Atty they guide the mayor and commissioners helping navigate the laws Thad who you need to focus on! The mayor and commissioners can be voted out of office but it’s more difficult to get the manager and city Atty out and to follow the citizens request!

  17. Obviously, Mayor “Bud” and the Commissioners have sold out the wonderful residents of Sunny Isles Beach. This is nothing new, especially with termed politicians. I moved here from New York to escape the overwhelming crowds and slowly but surely our city has been developing more and more. The proposed plan will crush the quality of life currently enjoyed. Along with public outrage we need to collectively hire attorneys and bring this into the courts. Hopefully, “ the developers “ will disappear along with Mayor Bud and the Commissioners..

  18. Iam a miami beach resident 41st live in a building built in 1969 .We are trying to do major plumbing project it’s been over year to do legal way with permits.I get the feeling ,city gov ,county gov is either over regulated or corrupt. Yes one thing for sure growth should be regulated .miami beach & sunny isle share a common evil, unhealthy growth.

  19. Miami is a broken city. from downtown Brickell to the Dade/Broward border, from East to West. Sunny Isles was destroyed long ago. Great place for the uber wealthy who want to jet in and spend their weekend in luxury, then leave. Run away, run far away.

  20. We cannot permit added density to an already terribly congested area. As. Longtime resident of SIB , since 1993, I have seen A1A become a horribly congested stream of non stop traffic. Trying to travel North on Collins from the Southern boundary of SIB is nearly impossible on most days. When school is open just try driving during beginning and end of school day.
    How do we stop this encroachment on our lifestyle in Florida’s Riviera?

  21. This is exactly the reason why I ran for a commissioner seat and lost to a powerful political machine headed by city mayor. I did not take any money from developers and would never let this type of project happen. I wonder if the same people trying to get permission to build on west side, were donors to my opponents political campaign, and other commissioners. Please come July 18th to city hall commissioners meeting to voice your opinion.

  22. So, the politicians must be running out of money to dole out to their entrepreneurial donors that lobby heavy for municipal contracts. They need the tax dollars off these projects so they have your money to give away. Stand strong. Public Enemy number 1 for years in South Florida has been every Builder’s Association and every developer.

  23. Sunny Isles Beach is over populated. A moratorium needs to be placed on all building in this city. Who is it benefiting, certainly not the residents. Hard to believe they permitted a building to be built on a very small piece of land on the corner of Collins and 163. To get from the bridge to Collins Ave can take up to an hour!! This building will make it much worse.
    HOW can the residents stop this insanity?

  24. The massive overdevelopment of Florida, and the horrendous traffic problems that it causes are facilitated by corruption of the Florida Department of Transportation and the Miami-Dade County Department of Public Works and Transportation.

    These government agencies, staffed by bureaucrats appointed by elected officials that receive millions of dollars from developers and lobbyists in the form of campaign contributions, have mandated an inaccurate and dishonest method for determining traffic “level of service” in traffic impact studies required for approval of permits for development in Florida.

    Instead of the honest and accurate method based on average travel speed (look at the maps app on your iPhone), these agencies require use of a count method based on “service volume tables”. These tables equate level of service to the number of vehicles passing a point in a given time: the lower the count, the better the level of service.

    However, as congestion increases and traffic slows to a crawl, the count decreases, resulting in an fraudulent acceptable measure of level service. This creates a huge financial benefit for the developers at the expense of the public’s quality of life.

    This corruption is not limited to these agencies. Professional traffic engineers routinely sign off on these fraudulent studies because they know that if they object, they will be blacklisted. The State Board of Professional Regulation routinely ignores these blatant breaches of professional ethics, because they are appointed by these same politicians that are supported by the developers and lobbyists.

    These assaults our quality of life will not end until honesty and accuracy replace dishonesty and fraud in government.

  25. Interesting that Sunny Isles and the City of South Miami have termed out mayors that are making massive efforts for overdevelopment. Both of these areas are unique but will lose that, along with the quality of life that people invested their hard earned money in. Politicians that use their office for personal gain and hidden agendas forgot about WE THE PEOPLE. Hopefully the voices of those that live in Sunny Isles will prevail, South Miami is a lost cause.

  26. developers are ruining miami and surrounding areas. they have taken to building on farm land now in the redlands since the commissioners moved the boundary lines for them. the commissioners who vote yes them them have to go.

  27. I agree with you 100%. Sunny Isles Beach is already over populated,and if the City plan will be approved, it will almost impossible to drive via Collins ave. City mayor care only about tax money and not about Sunny Isles Beach resident. I am a resident of Sunny Isles Beach from 2009. We were so happy to see ocean view, but unfortunately, now we can see only high rise building. This is distressful and no right. When we bouhgt our appartments, view was included in price and amount of Taxes was almost reasonable. I’m ready to help any way in order to STOP the City mayor madness plan!

  28. Steve Zarzecki, you are a good and honest man, and I agree with you 200%. I have been saying the same things as a concerned, involved and active citizen in South Miami. In addition to your factual statements I have to add another problem that is an important part of the equation. The role of the County’s Water and Sewer Agency in approving of these applications must not be overlooked. Our source of fresh water is limited and can’t support the unlimited population growth that we are wtnessing. As for sewage, this is a horrendous situation. I could write an article on all the unsolved problems and poor criteria used by WASA to continually approve of applications that burden a perpetually overburdened system which pumps over 300 million gallons of primitivly treated sewage water into the ocean on a daily basis.
    As for Marie,she makes a great point. Why is it that 2 mayors who are now termed out are pushing, promoting, and advocating from the dais, for gross overdevelopment at the tail end of their last term? Why would a mayor use his office to promote an agenda that is out of control and support projects that go way beyond the parameters of our Land Development Code?
    A mayor who acts highly offended when allegations of corruption are made by observant residents should take a look in a mirror and face the fact that his own actions have created the appearance of corruption. Furthermore, overdevelopment is certainly not “green”. Spurious statements that claim increased density in a stressed and overpopulated area is “green” are made to mislead people who don’t have the facts.

  29. The same problem exists in the City of South Miami. Just follow the campaign contributions and PACs. The developers which pour money to their preferred candidates will dictate what they want to the corrupt politicians once elected. The corrupt politician even have the nerve to say they are “pro-environment” and “green” while concrete, density and traffic increases. .


  31. Re. Ron’s comments:
    The appointment of City Manager and City Attorney is done by a vote of the entire Commission and these positions are very political. If they don’t work at the behest of a manipulative and cunning elected official(s), their contracts may not be renewed. Those individuals answer to the Commission, and not to the taxpayers, who pay the huge salaries and benefits packages that influence those individuals to jump in the direction that electeds want them to jump. You must always hold your electeds responsible when City Manager and/or Atty work against the will and best interest of the taxpayers. Some are highly paid henchmen for electeds. If they are working to add unwanted density to your city, look to your electeds and look at the length and breadth of those contracts.
    There was a “workshop” last Tuesday to consider many changes in the draft of our City Atty’s proposed contract. You can access the City of South Miami website if you want to and read the proposed contract with all the changes desired by the mayor, Philip Stoddard. You can also watch the video of the workshop. It’s a real eye opener for those who don’t pay attention to the workings of city government. You will learn the truth about various electeds if you watch and listen carefully to all comments at government meetings. Some are very disengenuous. This is for citizens who really want to know the truth about their electeds.
    If you have trouble navigating the website, call our City Clerk 305-663-6340. It will be challenging if you don’t have experience in this area.

  32. Mr Miller, Thank you for bringing this outrageous, unethical and stupid proposal to light!
    As a resident for 20 years, I have witnessed different administrations who cared about this town. I knew from the get go that Mayor Scholl would be a disaster! I was out of town at the last meeting, and definitely will be at the July 18th. This cannot proceed!

  33. Russian community should be notified about the 7/18 meeting.A lot of people do not speak English and are not comfortable with social media. Invitations in Russian in many Russian businesses in SIB would be welcome.

  34. We do not need an additional 7000 development. Every single small motel on the beach side of Collins has been bought by developers and high rise buildings built. Traffic is so congested; from 174th t can take more than 15 min to reach Sunny Isles Beach Blvd. Stop the building.

  35. In my son’s class there are 36 kids!!!! School was built for 800 kids and now we have more that 2000!!!!!!!!!!!! Don/t they want to build a separate school for Middle schoolers???????????


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