Palmetto Bay

Palmetto Bay postpones vote on whether condos can be built

Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flinn gives a tour of a wooded reserve that would become a passive park if the commission allowed a 485-condo project.
Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flinn gives a tour of a wooded reserve that would become a passive park if the commission allowed a 485-condo project. Miami Herald

Hoping to find a compromise that would allow a developer to build a much-debated condo project while revising it to lessen its effect on traffic congestion, the Palmetto Bay Village Council on Saturday deferred a vote for 90 days.

The delay could also give the village’s vice mayor, John Dubois, time to get a definitive ethics ruling on whether he has a conflict of interest that would prohibit him from voting on the Palmetto Bay Village Center project — a development that has polarized the small city for more than a year.

The council’s decision not to act leaves in place a vote it took a year ago allowing the development of 485 condos on the property that once housed Burger King’s corporate office. But it also leaves the developer in limbo because a lawsuit seeking to overturn that vote precludes any construction, according to village officials.

Council members were set to vote on whether to reverse their decision to allow 485 condos — a project that would also include the donation of 22 acres for a park. If the council undid its earlier vote, the property would revert to an earlier land-use plan that allowed 100 condos and 300 housing units for senior citizens. In a preliminary vote in April, the council said 3-2 it would reverse itself.

But the matter grew more complicated earlier in the week when Miami-Dade ethics investigators released a close-out memo that said Dubois has a conflict of interest that prevents him from voting on the project because he is indirectly subsidizing the lawsuit that challenged the earlier vote.

duboisportrait
John Dubois. Village of Palmetto Bay

The heated meeting at the start of the holiday weekend drew dozens of residents who expected a decision. Instead, the council voted 5-0 to postpone the measure until late September.

“This can be a way that we can come to an agreement with the developer, that will be not be detrimental to the Village of Palmetto Bay,” said Councilman David Singer. “It would be a cooling off period; we would look at the ordinance, maybe tweak it a little and go from there.”

After the meeting, Dubois told the Miami Herald he probably will ask the ethics commission to provide an official ruling “so that all can be cleared.”

“Once I present to them the facts of the case, I am certain they will disagree with the investigator’s letter and we can move on,” Dubois said.

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