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Doral OKs helipads at Trump resort

 

jflechas@MiamiHerald.com

The Doral City Council has approved plans to establish two helicopter landing pads at the Trump National Doral resort.

The decision was one of many during another marathon meeting Wednesday that was frequently bogged down by protracted discussion, arguments and confusion over procedure.

One concrete “helistop” and one turf one will be established near Northwest 87th Avenue on the golf course, both more than 1,000 feet away from the nearest home.

Ed Russo, a project consultant for the Trump organization, said the helistops will be used mostly during tournaments, and the approved ordinance eliminates a longstanding permit that would have allowed the resort to use its helistops as heliports, in which helicopters can stop for maintenance, refueling and repairs.

“We figured that’s not appropriate for the golf course,” he said.

According to city records, the helistops will only be used between dawn and dusk.

Trump representatives met with many residents of Fairway Homes, a community near the golf course. One of the residents, Chris Mazzola, brought a petition to the council Wednesday with about 35 signatures in support of the plan.

In particular, Mazzola said he and his neighbors favored eliminating the possibility of using the space as a heliport.

“We applaud that,” he said.

Also on Wednesday, the council got into a discussion about the solicitation for proposals from other law firms for the city attorney job. In January, the council voted to solicit proposals while each member individually met with curent city attorney John Herin to discuss any issues with his performance.

Without getting into specifics, City Manager Joe Carollo said Wednesday that he had a discussion with Herin regarding possible violations of the “cone of silence” — a rule that prohibits oral communication between potential vendors or contractors and City Council members or staff from the time the bid is advertised until a written recommendation is made.

In this case, Mayor Luigi Boria has the authority to recommend a city attorney, which has not happened yet.

The nature of the possible violation was not clear from Wednesday’s discussion, and the council ultimately voted to authorize Herin to seek an opinion from the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust in the matter.

On Thursday, Herin would not comment on specifics regarding any alleged violation.

“The council asked me to request a written opinion with regards to an alleged violation of the cone of silence,” he said.

Other highlights from Wednesday’s meeting:

• A popular weekly farmers market will continue after the council voted to extend it Wednesday. Every Sunday until June 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., a farmers market will convene in the parking lot at 9525 NW 41st St.

• The council got an update on the growth of the city’s free trolley service. Ridership went up by about 20,000 from the 2012 to 2013, from about 280,000 to 300,000. Public Works Director Jose Olivo said the city has wants to look at installing bus bays to mitigate traffic. He also said the public input staff has received calls for a revision to the trolley schedule.

•  The PGA Tour will be paying for the police services for a major tournament that will be hosted at Trump National Doral during the first week of March. According to Police Chief Richard Blom, the new agreement will save the city about $95,000.

Follow @joeflech on Twitter.

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