Bay Harbor Islands toll booths going electronic

In about a year, driving into or leaving Bay Harbor Islands via the Broad Causeway will no longer include hitting the brakes to pay the toll.

The town is a step closer to joining the all-electronic SunPass system and eliminating the current cash and Baypass tollbooths from the causeway that connects Bay Harbor Islands to the mainland.

At its Monday night meeting, the council unanimously voted to approve an agreement between the town and Florida Turnpike Enterprise that outlines how the new electronic tolls will work. The council also gave the green light for the city’s staff to request bids from contractors to build the toll gantry.

Town Manager Ron Wasson told The Miami Herald he anticipates that the toll will remain $1 for vehicles with a SunPass, and slightly higher — about 20 to 25 cents extra — for vehicles without the pass. Through the Toll-By-Plate system, non-SunPass holders can still drive on the Broad Causeway and will get a monthly bill in the mail.

According to the approved agreement, eight cents from every transaction will go to Florida Turnpike Enterprise and the rest will go to Bay Harbor Islands.

While the Broad Causeway is part of State Road 922, the town maintains and operates the causeway.

Drivers who frequently use the Broad Causeway will have the option to connect their SunPass to a program that allows them to pay a $250 flat annual fee instead paying the $1 toll each time. This service can be provided in person at the Bay Harbor Islands town office, 9665 Bay Harbor Terrace.

The town has budgeted $1.6 million for all electronic tolling equipment, including cameras and software, Wasson said. In addition, in 2011 the town budgeted slightly more than $189,000 for the SunPass gantry construction, according to meeting records.

In other decisions Monday, the dais also voted in a new mayor. Robert Yaffe replaced Isaac Salver as mayor. According to Bay Harbor Islands’ laws, the mayor and vice mayor are voted in by the rest of the council each year.

It took several nominations to settle on a mayor. First, Vice Mayor Jordan Leonard nominated Yaffe, who initially declined, saying that he recently started his own law practice. The council unanimously voted for Salver. Then the meeting broke into a short break, during which staff members and several officials on the dais listened to an audio recording of the mayoral nomination and voting process that took place prior. When the meeting was reconvened, the town attorney said the council will repeat the process of voting in a mayor because it is unclear whether there was a second supporting Yaffe’s nomination of Salver for mayor. Newly elected Councilwoman Kelly Reid nominated Yaffe, who declined for a second time. Reid then nominated councilwomen Stephanie Bruder and Solange Rousselot, both of whom declined. For the third time, Yaffe was nominated, and this time he accepted.

Leonard remained vice mayor.

The council also voted 4-3 against instituting term limits for council members. According to the town’s charter, each council member is up for election every four years, but there are no term limits. That means that there is a town election every year.

The council passed the following changes to its code:

• A clarification of the law guiding the height limits of single-family homes. The height limit remains 25 feet for most homes, except for waterfront properties, where the limit is 35 feet, said town planner Michael Miller.

• A requirement for parking garages that will be built as part of future condominiums to be closed and air-conditioned instead of open.

• A requirement for future multifamily developments to provide a semicircular pick-up and drop off area near the front lobby.

• A requirement for multifamily developments to provide at least one guest parking space for every plotted lot.