Miami Beach commissioners deferred a discussion on whether to fund a study looking at the neighborhood impact of a proposed urgent care center in South Beach.
Baptist Health wants to open an urgent care center, diagnostic offices and an outpatient surgery center at a proposed development at 709 Alton Rd. When the proposal went before the city’s planning board in January, where representatives from Mount Sinai Medical Center and some residents asked questions about the neighborhood impact.
The board ended up recommending the commission pay for an additional study examining the potential impact.
In the afternoon of Wednesday’s daylong meeting, Commissioner Deede Weithorn said she did not want to discuss the issue unless the full commission was present. Mayor Philip Levine and Commissioner Jonah Wolfson had stepped away, so the matter was not taken up. The commission will consider the matter Feb. 25
During a recess, Weithorn made it clear she wasn’t pleased with the planning board’s request, which she called unprecedented.
“I don’t know what the cost will be. I don’t know who will do it,” she said. “I think the planning board should do their job. We have to do ours.”
On Thursday, Mayor Philip Levine echoed Weithorn when he said he did not want to set a precedent by spending taxpayer money on an impact study.
“I don’t think we want to get into the habit of paying for any individual or board’s impact study,” he said. “I also think maybe a solution is the developer pays for the study and maybe the planning board selects who does it.”
The developer, Russell Galbut, offered to pay for a full neighborhood study at the planning board meeting. The board voted to send the recommendation to the commission first.
In other business:
▪ The city passed a resolution raising the minimum height for the crown of Miami Beach’s roads. The city’s public works department recommended the measure in anticipation of a series of road raising projects in different low-lying areas of the city to prepare for sea-level rise.
The first of these projects is slated to begin this month in the West Avenue neighborhood. Commissioners were supportive, but they said the city must hold several educational meetings with the public to explain the concept, emphasizing that it’s the city’s responsibility to make sure people understand the scope and reasoning behind the projects.
▪ The Miami Beach Police Department hopes to deploy a small number of body cameras on officers sometime in March. The department will meet with the police union in the coming weeks to discuss concerns with a policy for use of the cameras, which were approved by the City Commission in October.
Police Chief Dan Oates told commissioners he wants to roll the cameras out slowly, and he asked that other city employees who plan on using them, like parking officials and code enforcement officers, to wait and see how they work on police officers.
“We’re going to go slowly and deliberately to makes sure we get this right,” he said.
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