SunPost June 3, 2004

Sunny Isles Beach May Receive Three-Acres for Park Land

Another development proposal that will be taken up Thursday is a request by Dezer Development to build two condo towers consisting of 278 units on four acres as part of the Phase II of the Trump Palace project

By Randy Abraham
Contributing Writer

At their June 4 meeting members of the Sunny Isles Beach City Commission will consider accepting a 3.46-acre parcel at 17200 Collins Avenue, the so-called Casino property, for use as a public park.

If city leaders approve the donation, they will consider granting transferable development rights (TDR’s) to the donors that would allow the parcel’s owners to develop 277 dwelling units at a floor area ratio (FAR) zoning category of 3.75 elsewhere in Sunny Isles. The donor would then agree to submit within 90 days of the city’s acceptance of the parcel $700,000 for public and park improvements.

Commissioner Lewis Thaler said he was excited at the prospect of a new city park in the land-strapped city. “I think it is terrific for the people who fought to keep buildings away from that property. The people seem to be very happy.”

The site, on the west side of Collins Avenue just north of the Rascal House restaurant, was proposed for a 29-story condo project by The Related Group in 2002. The city denied the request, and for the next year worked on new zoning regulations for the Town Center District, which were approved in April.

The city may be selling some of the TDR’s they receive from the Casino site. The Related Group proposes to construct a 281-unit condo project at 17201 Collins Avenue, the former site of the Desert Inn Beach & Tennis Club, and has applied to purchase TDR’s in the amount of 65 dwelling units and 108,474 square feet of building space on the 2.7-acre site.

Another development proposal that will be taken up Thursday is a request by Dezer Development to build two condo towers consisting of 278 units on four acres as part of the Phase II of the Trump Palace project, and 391 units on 3.67 acres comprising Phase II of the Trump Royale development. The applicant is also applying for TDR’s in the amount of 54 dwelling units and 92,103 square feet of floor area.

City commissioners will also formalize an informal rule relating to submitting agenda items for commission approval that would require that elected officials receive all agenda items no later than four days prior to the date of the meeting. The modification to the procedure would prevent applicants from submitting changes a day or two before the commission meets. Thaler said the measure will help prevent commissioners from having to deal with last-minute changes on agenda items. “All we’re doing is formalizing an informal rule so that the city commission can be briefed. This establishes the fact that major changes can’t be made less than four days prior to a city commission meeting.”

In previous hearings, commissioners have complained about receiving changes to agenda items after the package has been printed and disseminated in the community.

City commissioners on Thursday will also formalize their intent to acquire the so-called Alamo property located at 18080 Collins Avenue, just north of the city’s future Government Center complex, by condemnation. A year ago the city had begun condemnation proceedings on the site, but in January decided to offer the property owner, RK Associates, an opportunity to respond in 90 days to an offer for the property. When RK failed to respond after the deadline, the city sought to resume its prior eminent domain lawsuit.

Commissioners are also expected to grant final approval to a series of proposed charter changes that would be decided by the city’s voters in November. One ballot item will decide whether to give the mayor a monthly salary of $1,250 and city commissioners a monthly stipend of $1,000. Another proposed charter change would address how vacant City Commission seats are filled. Currently, the city charter requires that the mayor appoint someone to fill out a commission term in the event of a vacancy when there is more than six months left in the commission term. However, the city charter calls for an election to field a replacement in the event that the mayor’s seat is vacated with more than six months remaining in the term. City leaders want the regulations for filling a commission vacancy to be consistent with those governing a mayoral vacancy, and the proposal calls for holding a special election within 45 – 90 days in the event there is more than six months left in a departing commissioner’s term.

Another change would move the date of municipal elections from September to November. Also to be decided is a ballot item that would modify term limits in the city. Currently, an elected official can serve no more than eight years as mayor, and eight additional years as a city commissioner.

City leaders also want to amend the charter so that a city commissioner who leaves office before having served two years can run for a full term should he or she decide to seek a new commission seat in the future.