Palmetto Bay’s new council on Monday declined to formally support a $5 million grant application to Miami-Dade County from developer Wayne Rosen – a major donor in recent county and village elections – but instructed staff to discuss the project’s direction with Rosen and attend county meetings on the subject.
The $5 million grant would reimburse Rosen for infrastructure and parking costs associated with his charter school, residential and commercial complex planned in the area Palmetto Bay hopes to redevelop as its downtown.
A vote to support Rosen’s application was deferred from the village’s November meeting, when then-Mayor Shelley Stanczyk spoke out against the measure, arguing it would raise county taxes and that the charter school was unpopular among many residents. Stanczyk lost her reelection bid in a Nov. 25 run-off with Eugene Flinn. During the mayoral race, Rosen gave between $2,000 and $4,000 to each of her three of her challengers – including Flinn.
The Miami-Dade County commission voted against Rosen’s application earlier in November, and they declined to reconsider the matter on Tuesday, but Rosen says he hasn’t given up.
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“I think I need to reach out to the commissioner of the district, get her support, and have the application heard again,” he said after the county commission meeting on Tuesday.
Daniella Levine Cava, the county commissioner for District 8, took office in November after ousting incumbent Lynda Bell in the August election. Bell was a prime supporter of Rosen’s grant – and Rosen a prime donor in her reelection campaign.
Council member Tim Schaffer, who sponsored the item in November and brought it up Monday, at first appeared to be asking the council for outright support for Rosen’s application.
“If we as a council consent to it, now [staff] can get involved … and really team up with the project, with the county and see what we can get in the way of [getting] this funding approved,” he said.
But Flinn clarified that village involvement with Miami-Dade County should be leveraged for a say in the project’s development.
“I know there have been concerns in the community. In working with the applicant, we might be able to effect some differences there,” he said.
Saying the village was just sending staff to the county “on fact finding, to cooperate and discuss,” Flinn told the council it did not need to vote on the matter.