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North Miami proceeds with annexation plans

North Miami’s City Council on Tuesday voted to continue pursuing annexation of an area that intersects with the neighboring village of Biscayne Park’s planned annexation area.

Biscayne Park representatives made an additional plea to the council asking it to remove its application with Miami-Dade County, but council members drew issue with the village’s methods. Both municipalities want to annex an unincorporated area that sits between their boundaries.

North Miami submitted three annexation applications in October 2013, including an area bordered by Northeast 121st Street to the north, 119th Street on the south and between Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 16th Avenue. The land consists of some office buildings and is just south of the city’s Whole Foods Market, 12150 Biscayne Blvd.

Biscayne Park initially submitted its application in early 2014, but it was considered incomplete because it didn’t have signatures from residents in the area planned for annexation. The village resubmitted, and both applications were considered at the March 2 Miami-Dade County planning advisory board meeting.

At that meeting, Biscayne Park representatives opposed all three of North Miami’s annexation applications, including proposed areas that didn’t overlap with Biscayne Park.

The decision “annoyed” some council members and residents, who said Biscayne Park didn’t approach the process with a good strategy.

“Y’all do need to sort of fall back and think about how good neighbors truly interact,” Councilman Scott Galvin said.

Mayor Smith Joseph said the village should have approached North Miami once it recognized there would be a potential overlap in the annexation areas.

“It shows from the inception of the whole thing that you were acting in bad faith,” Joseph said.

Some residents were more forceful in their critique of the village and mentioned a concession that North Miami made in its citywide land use plan in 2008. The city included a buffer zone and height restrictions on buildings that bordered Biscayne Park on Northeast 121st Street.

“We have been good neighbors; they are stabbing us in the back,” resident William Welsh said.

Village Manager Heidi Siegel said at Tuesday’s meeting that Biscayne Park had to act urgently to take advantage of about $270,000 in potential net gain from the annexation area. She said that the annexations plans dated back to 2012, but changes in village leadership delayed things until a new commission was appointed in December 2013.

“This is our one opportunity to diversify our tax base and become more solvent and become more fiscally responsible as your neighbors,” Siegel said. “Our intention is not to stop North Miami from achieving its goals.”

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