North Miami’s City Council approved a new distribution of capital improvement funds for streetscape and neighborhood improvements at its Tuesday meeting.
The resolution, which passed unanimously, split $700,000 among the city’s four districts and gave funding to Mayor Smith Joseph to be used for street lighting, roadway, landscaping and capital improvements and for home improvement and beautification projects.
The $700,000 comes from the $17.5 million the city received when it sold the Biscayne Landing property to Oleta Partners in 2012.
Initially, only Districts 2, 3 and 4 were set to receive a share of the funds until Councilman Scott Galvin asked why his district wasn’t included. The resolution was ultimately amended and took $100,000 from Mayor Joseph’s $500,000 allocation and gave it to District 1.
Vice Mayor Carol Keys and some residents expressed concerns over the home beautification aspect of the funding and said that giving money to individual homeowners might establish a bad precedent.
“It sounds to me that we are rewarding people for not taking care of their homes,” resident Annie Montgomery said.
Laura Hill, a District 3 resident, said she’s seen improvements across her neighborhood thanks in part to support from the city and its single-family home beautification program.
“I think that there are people who would love to upgrade their homes, they just don’t have the means to do it,” Hill said.
Other residents questioned how the different improvement goals will be prioritized. City Manager Aleem Ghany said the public works department will address the most pressing needs and work from there on to other projects.
“The sidewalks and lighting are very easy, the sidewalks are normally replaced based on main records and where you can see visible cracks, areas that have been lifted up by trees, those are the ones we’re going to replace immediately,” Ghany said, adding that there are more than 50 work orders with Florida Power & Light about street light issues across the city.
Also at the meeting, Councilman Galvin addressed concerns from residents in Keystone Point about rumored development at the site of the White House Inn, 2305 NE 123rd St.
The property was purchased last December by MAR, the company owned by Brickell Motors president Mario Murgado.
Some residents expressed concerns over a proposed plan to bring a mixed-use structure to the site, including a car dealership and a restaurant.
The Keystone Point Homeowners Association sent an email to members last month asking them to contact the city’s planning board and Vice Mayor Keys, whose district includes Keystone Point.
“Do we want another LA Fitness building at the entrance to our waterfront community?” the email said, referencing the gym that’s in a nearby shopping center on Northeast 123rd Street.
Planning manager Tanya Wilson-Sejour said no plans have been submitted for development at the site. The council’s approval of any potential change to the land use map would require a four-fifths vote.
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