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Front Page » Healthcare » 200-bed Palmetto Bay hospital caught in zoning battle

200-bed Palmetto Bay hospital caught in zoning battle

Written by on August 20, 2019
  • www.miamitodaynews.com
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200-bed Palmetto Bay hospital caught in zoning battle

A proposed 71-acre, 200-bed waterfront hospital campus in Palmetto Bay won’t be built anytime soon, with a drawn-out court battle expected between the village and the intended developer.

The dispute boils down to what the property’s zoning allowed prior to its purchase, as well as whether zoning changes by the village after the land purchase are an encroachment on the property owner’s rights.

Luxcom Builders bought the land from Florida Power & Light last December for $33 million with appropriate zoning for a hospital, said Michael Moskowitz, Luxcom’s attorney.

However, Mr. Moskowitz alleges, the Village of Palmetto Bay subsequently changed the zoning to one home an acre because council members opposed the project.

“It’s our belief that they did so intentionally to derail the project because they, the village, and perhaps certain citizens did not want a hospital campus to be constructed on this site,” Mr. Moskowitz said.

As a result, he is saying that Luxcom will sue the village to have the rezoning overturned. But beyond that, he said, Luxcom will sue the village for $50 million for damages to his client under the Bert J. Harris Private Property Rights Protection Act.

Mr. Moskowitz said Luxcom is willing to hash things out with the village but the village has thus far not cooperated.

“If the village wants to be constructive, and wants to be reasonable, there is always a method to reach a constructive resolution, but so far that has not occurred,” he said. “We would love that opportunity. They haven’t done so, therefore we are going to court.”

The village council, however, doesn’t believe the property was zoned to allow for a hospital, according to Vice Mayor John DuBois. He said that prior to its rezoning, the land had had institutional land use and interim zoning.

“There was no use that they were entitled to other than continuing to use it as a power plant without us changing the zoning on it,” Mr. DuBois said.

Mr. DuBois said he was the one who drafted the legislation to properly define what was allowed on the property. He said the legislation was drafted about a year prior to Luxcom buying the land – and had passed first reading – after FPL had bounced around the idea of having a large development on the property.

“The intent was to say ‘turn down your power plant, [FPL]. Stop going around town telling people you’re going to put an 800-home development there, which is not going to happen,’” He said.

Mr. DuBois continued, “That was our message, because that is what they were doing. They were going around before this stuff was zoned trying to make everybody believe there was going to be this beautiful super high-density development there, and it was starting to panic the residents, and that was part of the reason I wrote the legislation to go ahead and give it a land-use designation and give it a zoning designation in the absence of an application.”

Luxcom CEO and Chairman Oscar Barbara said in a press statement that the hospital would help serve Miami-Dade’s growing population and that “this new hospital will help address that need by serving the citizens of Palmetto Bay and the surrounding areas.”

Mr. Moskowitz said, “We believe that Palmetto Bay is an ideal location for a general hospital. Right now, with the current population numbers, if you look at the hospital and the services area, there’s one bed for every 307 residents. We believe that there is an absolute need for another hospital.”

When the project was first proposed, anyone interested in building a hospital would have had to obtain a certificate of need in order to house inpatient beds. However, that provision was scrapped during the most recent Florida legislative session.

The waterfront property is at 6525 SW 152nd St. If built, the state-of-the-art hospital there would feature about 200 beds, a 24-hour emergency room, an emergency helipad and an emergency dock.

10 Responses to 200-bed Palmetto Bay hospital caught in zoning battle

  1. Brian Reply

    August 21, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    I don’t believe housing or a hospital would be a proper use of that land. Developmemt in the area has devastated everyone already. What should be done is reclaim the land and setup a new park. And the boatramp should be an attraction. Every holiday, black point and homestead bayfront is bombarded with boaters, and they need a wider supply of ramps to put in. It should be public recreational land as Dade county really needs more gree space.

    • William Reply

      August 27, 2019 at 6:08 pm

      Generally I agree with you Brian – There should be a park component. Hospital is a terrible idea.

  2. Alicia Reply

    August 22, 2019 at 12:30 am

    I believe that in the interest of all the nearby residents this area is in a very strong need of a nearby hospital. Let us hope that this facility will be allowed to rise where many would medically benefit.

    • Fermin F Iduate Reply

      August 22, 2019 at 7:46 pm

      Sounds like you’re in cahoots with the developer! If you talk to the majority of people who live around the area, they will tell you we don’t want more traffic, or institutional noise. Old Cutler is maxed out in terms of traffic load. We have too many hospitals which charge way too much money that increase our healthcare costs. Stop promoting a bad suggestion!

      This developer knew full well that the village was opposed to any large high density development before he purchased the property, now he’s trying shamelessly to try and make us help him pay for it. Maybe he should have thought about it prior to buying and understanding the amount of industrial cleanup in contaminants that will cost millions to clean up that maybe FPL stiffed him with!

  3. A Prescription for Madness Reply

    August 22, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    Just what the doctor ordered! More stress and longer travel times on and around Old Cutler. Seems like a prescription for a madman! We, who actually live in Palmetto Bay, DO NOT WANT DEVELOPMENT at the old contaminated site. We want full remediation, and the appropriate and wanted park with water access, so that all residents can enjoy this gem and promote its public space.

  4. Margaret Losinski Reply

    August 22, 2019 at 10:02 pm

    This land should have been returned to either Miami Dade county or Palmetto Bay for use of the community. Jackson South is just down 152 St. In case of hurricane where would patients go. How would traffic be handled? This parcel of land is accessible only from 2 lane roads, 152 street or 67 ave.both of which have schools. I don’t like to think of mixing school traffic with ambulances.

  5. Matthew Reply

    August 23, 2019 at 12:50 am

    Another one-sided advertising piece used as yet another scare tactic by Oscar Barbara. His previous scare tactics didn’t work and his last frivolous lawsuit was dismissed. Now, in utter desperation he’s attempting to bully the Village and thousands of residents yet again? After a legal, by the book, several-years-long zoning process under two municipal mayors, Mayor Flinn and Mayor Cunningham, and two different Village Councils?

    Every single vote, in every single step, to the letter of the law was followed; and each was unanimous, and every single resident has supported nothing but all of those legal, unanimous votes and outcomes by the Village Council, the Local Planning Agency, and the State of Florida.

    Barbara’s problem is everyone already knew his disingenuous 11th hour “hospital ploy” wouldn’t work (plus a hospital will never happen for countless reasons) and was this was only in hopes to leverage MORE DENSITY (TRAFFIC) into the surrounding Old Cutler area. Yes, this is where families already suffer brutally, daily, from the worst traffic in the nation, mornings and afternoons on historic Old Cutler Road.

    An army of educated Old Cutler area residents, families and HOA’s have long hired multiple lawyers, and some have had formal and informal dialogue with his attorneys, so his desperate tactics are well understood by many.

    For anyone who may not be aware, Oscar Barbara was actually advised by his own legal council not to pull his 11th hour ‘hospital ploy’ and to not file the lawsuit that was dismissed. But he decided otherwise and then touted his ploy in a promotion piece; “an ER with ambulances” (can u imagine stuck on single-lane each way Old Cutler gridlock, with curbs cars cannot pull off over), “a helipad”, “and plenty of parking for all”.

    Those are all Barbara’s exact quotes in another advertising piece he asked Community Newspapers to do. He’s obviously not very good with his ploys and bullying tactics, he doesn’t listen to the wisdom of his own council, and he doesn’t learn from his previous mistakes.

    Barbara would be wise stick with what he knows best; how to get a half-price deal, and build luxurious single-family acre estates with ocean access in a classy yachting community.

  6. Frank Reply

    August 23, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    As an industry insider on the legal side of hospital delivery systems, I can tell you that a hospital today could never be built at that location. The list of categorical reasons and insurmountable hurdles are far too many to breakdown here.

    So one must ponder, who is behind such folly, with something that wouldn’t even be economically viable? Other than a developer who wants to exploit the land for other purposes?

    A non industry person can consider the impact on residents, schools, traffic. And that the main access from the North and South (no access from east – unless by yacht) to the property is Old Cutler Rd. A historic single lane each way, and now an F-rated road known for some of the worst traffic in the country.

    How would single lane Old Cutler traffic be handled with ambulances in transit? And I understand there are multiple schools and school zones in line of ingress and egress?

    Nearby areas are already over-served by Baptist Hospital, Jackson South, South Miami Hospital, Doctors Hospital. In fact, Jackson-UM is on the same street 20 blocks away. If hypothetical folly came to be, hurricanes wouldn’t be a problem as patients would all have plenty of nearby economically viable hospitals to be transferred to.

    That’s just the tip of the iceberg on what is folly.

  7. Jerry Johnson Reply

    August 26, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    The problem here is at the time of Luxcom’s purchase, the property’s zoning was indeed “institutional” which permits a hospital or a cemetery (plus a few other uses). The Village of Palmetto Bay screwed up a first attempt to change the zoning to one home per acre apparently due to improper notice, leaving the zoning in an “interim” status as “institutional” thereby permitting the hospital usage at the time of Luxcom’s purchase. No matter how much everyone wishes it will not be so, unless Luxcom donates or allows the County to buy the land for use as a park, the property may very well end up being an upscale hospital, and the Bert Harris suit may very well end up being decided in Luxcom’s favor. As to the traffic concerns, the Village of Palmetto Bay’s past and present Councils and the current District 8 Commissioner, recently alienated the County by having the County’s fully funded request to extend 87th Avenue between SW 164th & 160th Streets, be denied by the T.P.O., thereby leaving the bottleneck in place that the County wanted to uncork, possibly directly causing the existing & increasing traffic chaos within the Village and also along Old Cutler Road, and possibly causing the misuse of $5,500,000 for ineffective(?) “traffic calming”. To compound the Village’s traffic woes, knowing there would not be any mass transit relief for a generation or more, they passed a Downtown Urban Village concept that authorized 5,661 apartment units plus 1,500,000 square feet commercial, to create a “downtown” in less than a one square mile area, along the already at capacity U.S.1 corridor. The Village of Palmetto Bay faces some serious, serious challenges, mostly due to poor decision making that savvy developers are seemingly taking advantage of.

  8. Mark Reply

    August 26, 2019 at 11:39 pm

    It’s hard to choose a side when both sides of this dispute are being so despicable. The developer wanting to build a hospital where it obviously doesn’t belong and is not needed. Jackson South is already serving the area and the trend is to send patients home as soon as possible or to treat them in free standing facilities. It seems like a negotiating tactic more than a serious proposal.

    The city of Palmetto Bay, another of those two-horse towns full of power crazed little Caesars that multiplied like a festering plague in Miami-Dade County over the past decades, is also wrong. It is ridiculous to zone the property for one-acre home sites, which would require homes to sell for about $3 million. There’s already enough housing in Miami for the 1%, we don’t need any more. You can build 10 homes on an acre to make them affordable to working and middle class families. You can also include neighborhood retail such as pharmacies, bank branch, sandwich shop, dry cleaners, etc. Right now everyone has to drive to U.S. 1 for those services, which generates needless traffic.

    When this gets two court the judge should tell both sides, “you’re both idiots, get out of my courtroom and don’t come back until you have a reasonable development plan. You have 3 weeks, after that it’s $1,000 a day fine until you reach a deal I can sign off on.”

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