“They asked for commercial, judge, and they got commercial,” Brown said. “This is a classic case of be careful what you ask for.”
But Alan Dimond, an attorney with Greenberg Traurig who represents Astor, argued that the developer followed the city’s rules, and since residents never even attempted to appeal the decision, the judge could not now step in.
“I’m certainly sympathetic to the history of the community. I’ve lived in Coconut Grove in eight different locations. But it’s not at all relevant.
“The party cannot come to this court, to this place of decision, until the administrative process has been exhausted.”
Dimond further argued that the property’s use, not its ownership, determined the approval.
“The city made the decision. It took them a year to make the decision and the decision was this use was appropriate for the zoning that existed,” he said.
But Kuvin and Brookes countered that if use determined the approval, and not ownership, then the use should be restricted to a commercial, not government, garage.
“The ultimate purpose of zoning is to separate potentially incompatible uses,” the attorneys wrote in their lawsuit. “Under Miami 21... new development on the Douglas Road corridor ‘shall promote pedestrian activity, such as porches, loggias, windows, entries, plazas and ground floor retail uses where permissible.’ ”
The garage, they argued, doesn’t even provide a stop for residents, let alone provide business residents can use or reflect the neighborhood’s history or heritage.
But ultimately, the case rested on whether or not the judge could intervene. And while he conceded he likes “the old-fashioned way on paper, I’m not going to stand in front of history.
“They are disenfranchising you. Forty percent of people don’t have (Internet access),” he said. “But it’s not up to me.”
Freidin said attorneys would meet with residents and decide whether to appeal the judge’s decision in the next few days.
“This is a Catch 22 in that the notice provisions, while the judge held were adequate, were clearly insufficient. And now because they’re insufficient, we’re unable to complain.”