Homeowners group to resume fight against Biscayne development
By Deserae del Campo
Members of the Morningside Civic Association plan to go before Miami city commissioners again next week to oppose construction plans for a 105-unit mixed-use development along Biscayne Boulevard.
At the city's Dec. 1 planning and zoning meeting at city hall, Morningside Development LLC and residents of Morningside, a historic district of Miami, will face off over use of land at 5301-5501 Biscayne Blvd.
This is to be the second time commissioners will hear the appeal from residents to ban the building alongside the boulevard. They prevailed once, but a court last month overturned their victory.
In October 2004, the planning department approved a Class II permit to construct along Biscayne Boulevard. The mixed-used development, including 211 parking spaces, is to be nine stories high.
According to documents from the city's planning department, the project will include 11,994 square feet of office space on the first floors of two condo towers and stand 92 feet tall.
The zoning board in 2004 agreed with the Planning Advisory Board's approval of the project and also granted the permit to Morningside developers.
Later that year, residents filed an appeal of the permit, but the zoning board denied it 7-1.
In March, city commissioners heard arguments from Morningside residents including Christina Grass, who told commissioners the construction fails "to respond to the physical context, the surrounding urban form, and the natural green areas that characterize that portion of Biscayne Boulevard."
By a vote of 4-0, officials granted the appeal and the permit was axed. But it has resurfaced after Morningside Development LLC took the case to the 11th Circuit Court in October.
According to city documents, "the circuit court ruled to quash the city commission's decision" and sent the case back to the city.
"Again it's going before the board as a hearing," said JoNel Newman, attorney representing the Morningside Civic Association. "Commissioners may approve it with conditions or send it back to the planning and zoning board for review."
Attorneys representing Morningside Development say the city has no choice but to grant the permit. No evidence presented to the city says it should deny the permit, said attorney Doug Halsey.
"One of the main complaints from Morningside residents is to keep the maximum height for this development at 35 feet," Mr. Halsey said. "The building is now at 92 feet in height, which complies to the amended SD-9 district."
Within the SD-9 district, property owners must obtain a Class II special permit from the city before they can build.
Condo prices for the Biscayne development are to range from $400,000 to $500,000.