Little River Club threatens to sue the City of Miami

The conflict between the Shorecrest Homeowners Association and the Little River Club over the club’s use of a gate on NE 80th Street continues to boil  even after the Miami City Commission tried to resolve the issue. The latest: now the club is threatening to sue the city unless a compromise can be reached.

“We are trying to negotiate with the city, but if they don’t let us use our property, we are going to sue them,” said Bob Hardison, secretary-treasurer of the Little River Club.

A group of Shorecrest residents have complained for years about the Little River Club (LRC), a private clubhouse that’s used as a meeting place by Alcoholics Anonymous and similar organizations. The residents say that the flow of people and cars to the club’s entrance to its parking lot on NE 80th street has become a nuisance.  The HOA has insisted that the club should use metered parking on NE 79th and avoid 80th street altogether. (See a map)

The club maintains that is has used that entrance for decades and that the problems reported by some neighborhood activists are exaggerated.

After the passage of the Miami 21 zoning code, the use of the gate was no longer allowed under city rules. On Thursday, April 28, the City Commission voted to deny the club a zoning waiver, which if granted would have allowed the club to continue using the gate.

“The city denied the usage of that property as a parking lot; the only usage that will be allowed is for single families, community residences, home offices, recreational and religious facilities, infrastructure and preschool, elementary, middle and high schools,” said Zoning Administrator Barnaby Min.

However, Troy Howard,a concerned resident who has lived in the area for two years, says that the LRC has continued to use the gate and the parking lot. He wrote in post on OpenMediaMiami.com that the club’s actions since the vote have been “defiant” and “retaliatory”:

"The rear gate facing residential NE 80th Street remains open – now 24 hours a day, despite a posted sign saying that the gate is to be closed at 10pm. Members, visitors and commercial vehicles are speeding down the newly paved street and even parking their cars and party vans on the newly sodded swales outside of the LRC parking area. Needless to say, residents on the street are not at all happy!"

Hardison said that the cars are still using the parking  area on NE 80th due to road repairs on Ne 79th -- and he said that the club still has 30 days to comply with the city’s vote.

“We are leaving our gate open so that they can work, plus we still have 30 days since the decision was made a week ago,” he said.

Commissioner Marc Sarnoff has supported the HOA in the dispute, and disagrees with Hardison's assessment.

“Once the commission decided to decline their petition it was supposed to be effective right away,” said Williams Plasencia, a senior staffer for Sarnoff. “Right now this is a code enforcement issue, the enforcement bodies have been notified by the neighbors.”

With the issue now going to code enforcement and possibly the courts, this dispute seems unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.

This post was produced by Open Media Miami, an independent company that works in partnership with the Miami Herald to cover neighborhood news along the Biscayne Corridor. Become a fan on Facebook or join our community source and contributor network.