North Miami Beach is getting a new hotel.
In a unanimous decision on Tuesday, the city council gave the green light for a 10-story, mid-range Hyatt hotel to be erected along West Dixie Highway.
The council’s move is a controversial one, as some residents and visitors to neighboring Greynolds Park fear that the multistory building will have an adverse impact on traffic, the surrounding community and the environment.
Mayor George Vallejo and others on the council believe that the hotel will help spark development on West Dixie.
“We were elected to move the city forward,” Vallejo said. “We have to make our decision based on 42,000 residents — what is for the greater good of the city .”
He also believes that the project will create jobs and improve the surrounding area, as well as the city as a whole.
Braha Dixie is planning to place a 658,000-square-foot mixed-use building on a 4.3-acre parcel of land at 17400 West Dixie Hwy.
The conditional use approved by the council will permit the developer to build a 275-room hotel and office space.
A second requested conditional use by the developer for a bar/lounge was withdrawn during the meeting, during which there were more than two hours of public comment and presentations from attorneys in favor of and opposing the deal.
On the opposing side, residents and park-goers spoke out against the development.
“I’m not against development and progress, but not at the cost of our community’s safety and environment,” Nancy Petroske said. “God put us in charge of the environment, not in charge of building tall buildings at the cost of greatly increasing traffic and endangering wildlife.”
Rod Feiner, an attorney representing the developer, had a traffic expert, an architect and others speak about the impact the building would have.
All of those experts testified before the council that the project isn’t expected to have an adverse impact on the community.
“It was a long and torturous application process to get final approval,” Keith Donner, a spokesperson for the developer, said in an interview following the meeting. “Now we can finally focus on building our project.”
Attorney Charles Baron has appealed the city council’s recent decision to rezone the property that the hotel sits on into a business district, claiming that the move violated the city’s code.
The appeal also alleges that the city failed to properly disclose private conversations between city officials and interested parties, as required under state law.
During the meeting, Baron had a property-appraisal expert testify that the project will have a negative impact on surrounding properties.
After the meeting, he said the approval was “the anticipated outcome.”
“They made up their minds well before last night, and obviously they have made up their minds based on ex parte communications,” Baron said. “They continue to fail to disclose contents of those ex parte communications in violation of their own code giving objectors no knowledge of what was said during those communications.”
City attorney Darcee Siegel said that’s not the case.
“The city’s position on that issue is that no laws, ordinances or resolutions were violated. And furthermore, the city council had substantial competent evidence to support its approval of the rezoning application, as well as the approval of the conditional use for the hotel and site plan for that particular piece of property,” she said in an interview after the meeting.
Siegel said the council conducted the procedure “in accordance with due process rights as outlined in the law.”
A court date for Baron’s case has yet to be set, and the developer is moving forward with its plans to build.