Miami Springs’ voters will be going to the polls in 2014 to approve or disapprove the first sale of any portion of the golf course since its purchase from the City of Miami in 1997. That was made certain at Monday’s Miami Springs council meeting when the council agreed to the purchase price, contingent on “yes” votes from at least 51 percent of the voters at the Special Election.
The property, a “sliver” of land at the old James Medical Center on Eldron Drive, is being proposed for purchase by current owner Springs on the Green, LLC. The principals are Mr. and Mrs. Manny Perez-Vichot and they want to build a hotel on the property.
The council unanimously agreed to the purchase price of the 10,000-square-foot sliver at $115,000 on Monday night, but the Special Election — probably in March or April 2014 — must take place before any further action. Perez-Vichot has agreed to foot the bill for the election and on Monday also agreed to an important “time” stipulation.
Manny Perez-Vicot agreed to a stipulation that “building” on the property must start within five years of the vote or the property reverts back to Miami Springs. But he did not agree that building a hotel is the only possibility for the property.
“We do not want to be restricted to a hotel if the marketplace changes,” Perez-Vichot said at the meeting. “There is already permissible zoning in the area and we are not asking for anything more than that. We look forward to building something to benefit the community and ourselves.”
City Attorney Jan Seiden agreed when he said, “Look at the Airport Golf District that this property is a part of and you should be happy with the restrictions already in place and should not make changes.”
There was some concern from Councilman Jaime Petralanda that this sale would set a precedent and that “some people might get the idea that we are willing to sell off pieces of the golf course property.”
Again, Seiden intervened by saying, “Everything has to go to a vote and the citizens are smart enough to differentiate between this and a different kind of transaction.”
Also, Councilman Billy Bain posed the question as to why leasing the property would not be possible, as that could be more financially beneficial to the community in the long term.
Although Seiden did not say it would be impossible, he did say, “Financing would become almost impossible for the owner and keeping the city ‘entangled’ in the property for a long period would be tough to administer. If the city wanted to be a ‘partner’ for a major land buy maybe, but not for this ‘sliver.’ ”
Perez-Vichot had proposed a $105,000 price for the property at the last meeting but an independent city appraisal in the interim came in at $115,000. The motion to accept the city’s appraisal passed unanimously and Perez-Vichot agreed to the increased price.
At the next regular council meeting on Monday, Jan. 13, a contract will be submitted and possible dates for the election will be provided. The council must then approve a resolution for a Special Election.
In other news, the council:
• Presented Certificates of Recognition to members of the Anchor Club for their assistance in the rebuilding of the Butterfly Garden.
• Approved unanimously on second reading an ordinance repealing and deleting all ordinances that pertain to the Mixed Use District.
• Heard a risk assessment report from the Florida League of Cities on the possibility of opening to the public the boat ramp at North Royal Poinciana Boulevard and Quail Avenue along the Miami River Canal.
The ramp is now operated by the South Florida Water Management Department (SFWMD) and used by the Miami Springs Police Department when needed. The assessment noted limited space, a conflict with the bike path, little parking, and maintenance costs as reasons not to open it to the public.
The problem with opening the ramp to the public and trying to regulate its operation brought liability and insurance issues to the forefront. It was explained that the city’s insurance carrier would require an increase from $2 million to $3 million and that would cost an additional $7,800 in yearly premiums.
Also, City Attorney Jan Seiden reiterated the more regulation and signage the city puts there, the more liability the city would have as far as being sued by a user. The question of who would be liable once the boat was in the water was addressed and there was no answer.
• Approved in concept but requested further information on the Educational Advisory Board’s four recommendations to council for interaction with the schools.
• Approved a new three-year inter-local agreement between Miami Springs and Virginia Gardens relating to transportation services. Miami Springs receives 20 percent of Virginia Gardens C.I.T.T. funds to provide “City Circular” (MS shuttle) service to the residents of Virginia Gardens.
• Approved unanimously an inter-governmental agreement between Miami Springs and Miami-Dade County to provide modern crossing approaches at the Starbucks/Stadnik Way crossing on Curtiss Parkway.
• Approved unanimously a resolution authorizing the designation of the 100 to 300 block of Curtiss Parkway, fronting Grace Lutheran Church, as “Pastor Schmidt Way.”
• Tabled the discussion regarding application fees for variance requests from residents and businesses.
• Scheduled a Workshop Meeting to discuss code revisions for Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 at 7 p.m.