Developer to return to court with Morningside project
By Deserae del Campo
After Miami city commissioners advised Morningside Development LLC officials to scale down their 92-foot-tall project to 35 feet, Morningside residents were pleased with the decision. Now developers say they are taking the case back to the 11th Circuit Court to appeal the City Commission vote and get their Class II building permit without scaling it down.
"All I can say is we are going to look for the protection of the courts," said Salomon Yuken of Morningside Development.
For two years, developers have fought for a Class II permit to construct a 105-unit residential building at 5301-5501 Biscayne Blvd.
The Morningside Civic Association filed an appeal seeking denial of the permit, arguing that two towers next to single-family homes along Biscayne Boulevard would not be in character with the neighborhood.
At a planning and zoning meeting this month at city hall, Miami commissioners did not grant the appeal by city residents but did ask developers to scale down the project.
During that meeting, Commissioner Johnny Winton said developers have a right to build the project but not against R-1 single-family residential homes at that height.
Evan Goldenberg, attorney with White & Case LLP, said the City Commission should have conducted that meeting as an appellate court and not second-guessed evidence heard before the city's zoning board in 2004.
The saga began in October 2004 when the city's planning department granted developers a Class II building permit for a 92-foot building with 11,994 square feet of office space on the first two floors of two condo towers with 211 parking spaces.
The zoning board also approved the permit and in December 2004 denied the Morningside Civic Association's appeal with a 7-1 vote.
Three months later, city commissioners voted to deny the permit and grant the appeal. But developers returned to city hall after taking the case to the 11th Circuit Court, which quashed the commission's denial.
In January, during a planning and zoning meeting, city commissioners sent the issue back to the zoning board for modifications to its December 2004 decision denying the appeal. Morningside residents once again lost the battle after the zoning board voted 6-2 to deny the appeal and grant the permit.
Developers did not say when they would take the case back to the appellate court, but they "are still seeking the Class II permit that was approved by the city's planning director and the city's zoning board," said Mr. Goldenberg.
Elvis Cruz, a Morningside resident who filed the appeal, was not available for comment.