BellSouth gets restrictions eased on North Miami Beach land
By Suzy Valentine
Miami-Dade commissioners last week answered calls by BellSouth to relax building restrictions on 72 acres it owns in North Miami Beach, a change that permits residential development.
BellSouth Telecommunications Inc. applied before the county zoning board to have its land - bounded to the north by Northeast 215th Street, the south by San Simeon Way, the west by Northeast Fifth Place and the east by Northeast Eighth Avenue - reclassified from industrial to mixed use, which would permit residential development.
BellSouth also asked permission to excavate lakes, add entrance features, waive fencing requirements and remove a restrictive covenant that forbade use other than by an electrical or telecommunications company. The commission approved the changes after hearing protests from neighbors about over-building.
"The Greenbrook Neighborhood Association and many of our neighbors in associations in and around the California Club are very much opposed to the zoning change, specifically the density," said attorney Mary Kramer, representing association president Sarah Messiah. "We are very concerned that we are being saturated with density, specifically with condominiums and townhomes."
Ms. Kramer bemoaned the loss of nearby green space and an added burden to roads.
"I don't know if any of you are familiar with the former Williams Island Golf Course on Ives Dairy Road, about a quarter-mile from the BellSouth site that we're talking about," she said. "The golf course was closed, and now there are going to be about 890 units being built, adding to the traffic on Ives Dairy Road and San Simeon Way. Back-to-back with the BellSouth property, they are also already breaking ground on 125 townhomes."
Winning support of neighbors was a priority, said BellSouth's attorney. "We had to collect close to 2,000 signatures in the area," said Richard Perez of Pascual Perez Kiliddjian & Associates. "We have been working for more than a year at collecting the signatures."
BellSouth has pledged 5 acres for parks and 6 acres to Miami-Dade County schools to build a school, based on projections that housing developed on the site would generate 124 students.
"The applicant has agreed to a two-year timetable to have that school under construction," Mr. Perez said. "The applicant has provided a further commitment that if it doesn't do it, it will build a school within two years of that point."
Commissioner Barbara Jordan moved to permit the changes, Sally Heyman seconded and the zoning board approved.
The permissions allow BellSouth to devise a master plan and return to the board.
"Will you be coming back during the process in terms of the whole project plan?" said Ms. Jordan. "Will you be coming back in a more extensive form?"
"What's before you is Phase 1," said Mr. Perez. "There's a Phase 2. If we're successful in getting through the master-plan stage, we'll come back at a zoning hearing to incorporate higher density."