North Miami - NMB

NMB council members approve plans for high-rise hotel

The first high-rise hotel building in North Miami Beach is a step closer to reality.

Council members on Tuesday voted 5-0 to approve site and conditional uses for the development near Greynolds Park. Council members Frantz Pierre and Phyllis Smith were absent.

The vote came after a ruling by the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Appeals put a previous vote into question.

In August, council members granted site plan and conditional use approval for the construction of a 10-story mixed use building on nearly 4 ½ acres of land next to the entrance of Greynolds Park, a 249-acre urban preserve in North Miami-Dade County.

But the Friends of the Oleta River and other petitioners filed a lawsuit alleging the developer, Braha-Dixie LLC, failed to prove the development would not harm the environment nor lower property values. They also argued that council members failed to adequately disclose their private discussions about the project prior to the August vote.

In its ruling, the court said council members must fully disclose pre-conversations or “ex parte” communication they had before voting on the project.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, City Attorney Jose Smith advised council members to disclose all their pre-conversations, including email communications. He assured the council that the opinion rendered by the appeals court () reaffirmed that the developers did “provide substantial evidence” that the development was safe to the neighborhood.

“As far as I’m concerned that issue is dead and now the only issue for you is make the appropriate disclosures on the record to allow them (petitioners) the opportunity to respond in accordance with the court’s order,” said Smith.

After the council members each described that their “ex parte” communication had no bearing on their decision to approve of the project, it was the public’s turn to respond. Kim Lumpkin, who was one of the petitioners of the lawsuit, said the project would create a domino effect that will spur further encroachment in an environmentally sensitive area.

“Saying the development won’t impact the park, I just don’t believe it. Do a real environmental study,” said Lumpkin. “It might seem like a small area but it’s encroachment and it’s going to spread.”

Mayor George Vallejo pleaded with the public to refrain from heckling at least half a dozen times.

“With all due respect, we listened to eleven people speak here. One of them was a resident who spoke in favor of the project. One was a resident who spoke against the project. The other folks who spoke here are not residents. No one is destroying the park, this is a matter that is to be decided by North Miami Beach residents through their elected officials and that is what has been done,” said Vallejo.

In other news: The city is gearing up for the Snow Fest and Holiday Parade on Dec. 13 from 6-11p.m. at the Government Center along 19th Avenue from 168th to 172nd street.

There will be a Menorah Lighting ceremony at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 16 at City Hall, 17011 NE 19th Ave.

The next City Council meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 16.