Coral Gables

Coral Gables approves new safety protocol for guardhouse operators

Artist rendering of the southern view One Merrick Park project from San Lorenzo Avenue. The City Commission approved a mixed-use site plan for the project.
Artist rendering of the southern view One Merrick Park project from San Lorenzo Avenue. The City Commission approved a mixed-use site plan for the project. City of Coral Gables

At its meeting Tuesday, the Coral Gables city commission gave final approval to an ordinance to aid safety efforts in gated communities, gave site plan approval to the One Merrick Park project and awarded a bid for the construction of the city’s adult activity center.

The main item

Gated communities in the Gables will have added security measures after the commission voted to approve an ordinance allowing guardhouse operators to ask certain questions of drivers entering the areas during late-night hours.

Drivers will be asked to roll down their window and let the guardhouse operator know where they’re headed. The ordinance does not explicitly prevent anyone from entering the community and removed language from the first reading that would have involved calling the police on noncompliant drivers.

The law would be in effect from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. and city leaders said the goal is primarily to provide an additional safety measure without actually restricting access.

“If somebody understands they have to lower their window and there’s some facial recognition they’re going to think twice about committing a crime,” Commissioner Vince Lago said.

Guards will have the option to call the police if someone isn’t compliant with the law during the given time frame, but the ordinance does not require them to do so. City Attorney Craig Leen also said that the city will intervene if they suspect that profiling is happening.

“If we hear that it happens we will go after that guardhouse operator,” Leen said.

The ordinance will be reviewed after one year and homeowners associations will be given additional information on the ordinance.

Other business

Permits and processes: Certain permitting processes in Coral Gables will be easier after the commission passed a series of items at the meeting to reduce fees and streamline things for applicants.

Building permits for projects fewer than $500 in construction value will only cost $25 a reduction from the previous fee of about $259. Additionally, zoning permits will no longer be required for awning and chain-link fence repairs, pool resurfacing, single-family and duplex residential flooring and kitchen cabinet work.

Permits will still be required for fence and awning replacement and for flooring work in apartments and condos. The resolution passed Tuesday also institutes a fee waiver for senior residents (65 years and older) and residents making repairs after damage done by a burglary or another crime.

One Merrick Park: Commissioners approved a mixed-use site plan for the One Merrick Park project at the northeast corner of San Lorenzo Avenue and Laguna Street.

The plan calls for a 10-story building with 3,530 square feet of shopping on the ground floor and 13 residential units. The site was previously zoned for industrial use and neighbors the Village of Merrick Park.

Adult activity center: The commission approved the selection of Stone Concept Miami to handle construction of the city’s adult activity center.

The resolution also allowed for a transfer of nearly $119,000 from the capital improvement fund balance as the company’s bid was higher than what the city budgeted.

The next meeting

When: 9 a.m. Oct. 22.

Where: Coral Gables City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3