In a response to numerous angry comments, Sunny Isles Beach Mayor George “Bud” Scholl is now stating that the city commission “heard” residents’ protests about what they are characterizing as his “crazy plan” to permit the construction of more than 9,000 residential and hotel units in the Town Center District – even though he publicly dismissed resident comments at a July 18, 2019, city hearing.
Residents are wondering again, what to believe: Will the mayor and certain commissioners finally listen to residents or mislead them again after making winning campaign promises to keep high-rise developments away from the west side of Collins Avenue?
Mayor Bud and certain members of the city commission will have another chance to correct their deceitful behavior at a scheduled Special Commission Meeting to inform residents of their plan for this site in the heart of this busy district in the heart of Sunny Isles Beach. The meeting is scheduled to take place Aug. 28, at 6 p.m. at city hall.
Leading into this meeting, residents are still angry with the mayor for his devious little plan to up-zone the west side of Collins Avenue. Instead of listening to his constituents, he is now proposing a moratorium to give the city more time plot a new scheme to approve the illegal Infinity Project – which the mayor originally sought to pass at that July 18 public hearing, increasing density and intensity in the Town Center District. Residents wonder why didn’t he ask for time to review the impact of his plan prior to the July 18 public hearing.
But all that aside, residents simply don’t feel a moratorium is the appropriate solution because moratoriums to temporarily stop or suspend development projects are used by local governments only if the project is legal – which this one is not, in the opinion of at least one expert who has reviewed this deal.
That’s right, according the expert hired by Raanan Katz, the Infinity Project that the mayor is lobbying to approve, is in fact an illegal project. A moratorium simply cannot be used to stop the up-zoning of the west side of Collins Avenue in the Town Center District according to planning experts.
“The only acceptable solution to move forward is to amend the unlawful zoning code by deleting the increased density and intensity of the Town Center District as the city represented to the State [of Florida] in 2008,” said resident Maggie Gordo in a recent email to the mayor and city commissioners. “We remind the mayor and the commissioners that we, the residents and business owners of our city, will no longer accept unlawful acts by our elected officials.”
The time has come for the mayor and city commissioners to be honest with the residents. Rather than listening to the residents, the mayor and his followers have decided to engage in a propaganda campaign to confuse residents, and in the process hurl personal insults at anyone who opposes the up-zoning plan for the Town Center District.
The mayor has even claimed that Miami-Dade School District is lying about his up-zoning plan because the school district’s expert concluded, without including hotel units that the mayor’s plan would yield 891 residential units. Now, who is lying about whether the mayor’s crazy plan is an up-zoning? The residents say they know who is telling the truth, and further say they will not be fooled again by the mayor during the Aug. 28 hearing.
The moratorium idea is not acceptable to residents if it means that the city will up-zone this area on the west side of Collins Avenue to permit the Infinity Project. Commercial shopping centers owner Raanan Katz, who has spearheaded the protest against the mayor’s plan, says he will not accept a moratorium if it means a backdoor up-zoning plan to approve the Infinity Project according to a letter written to the mayor and city commissioners.
Katz has been quoted as saying he is prepared to sit down with the city at any time, “to resolve the issues relating to the existing buildings, but we will not support a plan to increase density and intensity for undeveloped properties on the west of side of Collins Avenue that would destroy the quality of life of residents and my shopping centers.”
Through emails and letters, residents are requesting immediate action from the city commission to eliminate any plan to up-zone the west of Collins Avenue in the Town Center District.
Some residents are even calling for the recall of the mayor and certain members of the city commission because of their transparent and unbridled support of the up-zone plan at the public hearing on July 18.
On Aug. 28, residents will find out if the mayor and city commissioners are listening – or whether they will again mislead their residents.