A new car dealership may be on its way to North Miami after the city council approved the first step in a plan for a new Volvo showroom on Biscayne Boulevard.
The council voted 4-1 at Tuesday’s meeting to approve an amendment to its land development regulations to allow “retail showroom, automobiles” as a special exception. Vice Mayor Carol Keys cast the no vote.
The showroom will take over an old Wells Fargo building at 12550 Biscayne Blvd. and plans to be an indoor showroom with a dining area and other amenities.
Residents, mostly from the Keystone Point and Sans Souci neighborhoods, spoke on the item and were divided in their support and opposition.
Some of the residents’ concerns were addressed at the city’s May 5 planning commission where the developer agreed to certain restrictions including not allowing test drives in residential areas, restricting delivery zones and delivery hours and preventing vehicles from being stored outside the showroom.
“In the beginning I was opposed to this also, but I see a lot of benefits to it so long as it’s done right,” resident Louise Poo said.
Others said that the amendment was still “rezoning” the area and could lead to abuse by developers in the future as well as create traffic issues.
“This is rezoning, it affects the entire length of Biscayne Boulevard’s west side,” said Bob Pechon, vice president of the Keystone Point Voluntary Homeowners Association.
Other residents, including Howard Tonkin, said that the city needed to try something “cool.”
“If people are worried about traffic on Biscayne Boulevard they should move to the country because it’s a busy street, it’s going to be a busy street,” Tonkin said.
That divide extended to the city council as Keys and Councilman Scott Galvin exchanged words about what the amendment could lead to in the future.
“While Volvo is great, and I would love to see Volvo here, I’m also concerned about what this is opening the door for in our city,” Keys said, expressing concerns that less-reputable dealerships could spring up due to the change.
Galvin said that some of the concerns seemed too premature.
“We can’t continue, as a city, to throw theoretical wild possibilities at every developer that comes to this city,” Galvin said.
The ordinance, which requires a second vote, included an amendment that limits any retail showrooms that open in the commercial district to only service vehicles sold from their location.
“Let’s see where it takes us, so people can start looking at North Miami as a city where they can come and conduct business.” Mayor Smith Joseph said.