Bay Harbor Islands officials approved two new condo projects recently despite residents’ claims that the developments will disrupt their small-island charm.
One developer wants to build a 60-unit condo at 9920-60 W. Bay Harbor Island Dr., while another wants to build a 93-unit condo at 9201 E. Bay Harbor Island Drive and a 72-unit condo at 9431-81 E. Bay Harbor Island Dr. The 93-unit condo did not get town approval.
“The addition of over 300 units and 600 vehicles will only congest the roads, overcrowd the school system and go against the breezeway vision of the founder Shepard Broad,” said resident Tosie Andrews. Broad was a Miami lawyer who founded the town.
Andrews was among the dozens of residents that came out to have their protests heard at the town’s Planning and Zoning Board hearing on Dec. 18. Many expressed their fears of overdevelopment.
“I think it’s great that the developers are coming, but it would be good to keep the essence and the feeling of the island,” said Kelly Reid.
All three projects were granted approval by the Development Review Committee and were said to have met town code, according to town staff members.
The two projects approved are still pending the approval of the transfer of development rights necessary to allow for the proposed number of units per acre.
Residents expressed concern over the town permitting the transfer of development rights and the effect that the move would have.
“What are we getting in return?” said resident Teri D’Amico in a handout given to board members before she spoke. “More density, more traffic, no breeze, blocked views, and massive parking garages and a deteriorating quality of life.”
According to Town Attorney Craig Sherman, it is within the Planning and Zoning Board’s discretion to determine whether the project has met town code.
“There are aesthetic considerations also, and that gives them a lot of leeway,” said Sherman in a phone call later.
One board member made his feelings clear on development in Bay Harbor Islands.
“This project is not a project for Bay Harbor Islands,” said board member Howard Hollander. “We are not living in the middle of Manhattan; we are living in the middle of a small island in Miami-Dade County.”
Hollander, who has expressed these feelings before, is not in favor of large-scale development.
“Bigger is not always better — it’s just bigger,” said Hollander.