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Minutes of meeting

Jan. 6, 2003
12:00 NOON

Phil Everingham, Vice Chairperson, called the Miami River Commission meeting to order at 12:05 p.m. on Monday, January 6, 2003 at the United Way, Ansin Building, 3250 S.W. Third Avenue, Miami, Florida.

Miami River Commission Policy Committee members and/or Designees attending were:
  • Phil Everingham, President of the Marine Council, Vice Chairperson

  • Sandy O’Neil, Mayor of Miami-Dade, Designee

  • Megan Kelly, Chair of Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, Designee

  • Dick Bunnell, Chair of Miami River Marine Group, Designee

  • Cleve Jones, Member at Large Appointed by City of Miami Commission

  • Beau Payne, Member at Large Appointed by City of Miami Commission,             Designee

  • Janet McAliley, Rep. Environmental or Civic Org., Appointed by the Governor

  • Ernie Martin, Neighborhood Rep., Appointed by City of Miami Commission

  • Michael Cox, Neighborhood Representative Appointed by City of Miami Commission, Designee

  • Steve Wright, City of Miami Commissioner, Designee

  • Gary Winston, Miami-Dade State Attorney, Designee

  • Sallye Jude, Neighborhood Rep., Appointed by Miami-Dade Commission

  • Tom Parker, Member at Large, Appointed by Miami-Dade Com., Designee

  • Bruno Barreiro, Miami-Dade County Commissioner

Ex Officio (non-voting) members: Ellen Roth, Senator Bob Graham Office

MRC Staff: David Miller, Managing Director
Brett Bibeau, Assistant Managing Director
Nicole Burstein, Research Assistant

Others attending interested in the River:  

  • Eddie Borges, City of Miami NET

  • William Clayton, City of Miami Police

  • Yamile Marrera, City of Miami Attorney’s Office

  • Dianne Johnson, City of Miami REED

  • Dusty Melton

  • Fran Bohnsack, MRMG

  • Jim Broton, Spring Garden Civic Association

  • Eileen Marcial Broton, Spring Garden Civic Association

  • Francisco DeLa Torre, FWC

  • Jim Murley, FAU

  • Helen Brown, Miami-Dade P&Z

  • Carlos Espinosa, DERM

  • Roman Gastesi, Miami-Dade

  • Dan Ricker, Watchdog Report

  • Roberto Gonzalez, City of Miami

  • Frankie Ruiz, Miami Marathon

  • Robert Berris, Miami-Dade Police

  • Marco Pascual, Miami-Dade Police

  • LTJG Jennifer Sadowski, USCG

  • Krassi Ivanov, Spring Garden

  • Tamme Flood, Spring Garden

  • Hannah Hausman, Hands-on-Miami

  • Rolie Calzadilla, Farrey’s Lighting

  • Sarah Ingle, City of Miami P&Z

  • Rafael Velasquez, Attorney



Mr. Everingham called the meeting to order and welcomed everyone to the January meeting.  He stated that there was a quorum present and asked for approval of the December minutes.  Sallye Jude made the motion to approve the December minutes.  Sandy O’Neil seconded the motion and it passed unanimously. 

David Miller stated that Brett and he attended the Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation meeting on December 17, 2002.  They put forth two legislative requests. The first was for a $200,000 appropriation for MRC operating funds.  This is the same amount that the MRC asked for and received last year.  The second request was to repeal Section 7, Chapter 98-402 the “sunset provision”.  Doug Bruce, the MRC lobbyist in Tallahassee, has been key in getting these legislative requests in place.  Representative Gus Barreiro and Senator Alex Villalobos have agreed to sponsor both of these bills for the MRC.  The sunset bill states “Whereas, the Legislature having reviewed the creation, operation and accomplishments of the Miami River Commission determines that the Commission should be continued and herewith reenacts the provisions providing for its continuation”.  David stated that the MRC also worked with Roman Gastesi and Miami-Dade County for their $1.5 million request for the dredging project.  The MRC has invited Governor Bush, Senator King and various legislators to go on a boat tour of the River.  Dusty Melton asked if the MRC is planning on having a presence at Dade Days (April 2 and 3).  He feels that this is an excellent time for our voice to be heard and asked that the dates be circulated among the commission members.  Sandy O’Neil asked David if the MRC had submitted its legislative requests to the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce (GMCC).  David stated that the MRC had submitted their requests, which were the same as those submitted to the Dade Delegation and the requests were approved and on the GMCC’s legislative list. 

Phil stated that he, as acting chair of the MRC, would be presenting a letter of appreciation and a Miami River Plaque to certain individuals that have provided exceptional support and assistance to significantly improve the River.   The following people were recognized for all of their hard work on the Urban Infill Plan:  Mr. Jim Murley, Ms. Sarah Ingle and Ms. Helen Brown.  The next group recognized included Mr. Pablo Cantons, Officer Michael Reyes and Mr. Bill Borges from the East Little Havana NET offices for all of their assistance throughout the year including their hard work on Riverday 2002, the creation of Riverside Garden, various clean-ups and the adopt-a-tree event.  Mr. Ed Borges and Officer Bill Clayton from the Allapattah NET offices were recognized for their work on the creation of Action Sports Park, the volunteer clean up of Wagner Creek and the planting of 600 trees within the Urban Infill Corridor.  Officer Francisco de la Torre of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission was recognized for all of his successful work to remove derelict vessels from the River.  Mr. Roberto Gonzalez from the City of Miami Parks Department was also recognized for all of his work with Lummus Park and his exceptional help scheduling meetings in the community center.  The final letter of appreciation and plaque was given to Ms. Hannah Houseman representing Hands-on Miami for their various River clean-up projects.

II.        Miami River Bridge Painting

Sallye Jude stated that in the past the Miami River Coordinating Committee had a plan to have each of the bridges along the river corridor painted a unique color with accent lighting to highlight the structure.  She feels that now that some of the bridges are being replaced, it would be a good time to act on this issue.  Sallye made a motion to make a resolution to coordinate with the Florida Department of Transportation to paint the bridges and to add lighting to make the bridges more aesthetically pleasing to the community.  Sandy O’Neil seconded the motion.  Tom Parker asked who would designate the colors of the bridges.  Sallye stated that there is a list in existence but that we should review it to make sure the colors are appropriate.  David stated that this issue should be referred to the Greenways Subcommittee.  The motion passed unanimously.

 Phil stated that the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County are planning a marathon and will have a potential impact on the river.  Frankie Ruiz, the organizer of the marathon spoke about the event.  He stated that it is taking place on February 2, 2003.  It will be 26.1 miles and they are expecting 5,000 runners.  The organizers have requested that the Coast Guard have both the Miami Avenue Bridge and the Brickell Avenue Bridge locked down and closed for a portion of the morning.  The runners will be going over the Miami Avenue Bridge between 6:30 am to 10 am and the Brickell Avenue Bridge between 7:10 am and 11:59 am.  David stated that the Coast Guard would attempt to coordinate these bridge closures with the Second Avenue Bridge closing so as not to put any further burden on the marine industry and boating community.  The marine industry members present felt that this would have a minimal impact, if any, on river commerce. 

III.    Seybold Pointe Development Discussion

            Ernie Martin passed around a fact sheet prepared by the Spring Garden Civic Association (SGCA) about the proposed 12-story building located at NW 8th Street Road and 11th Street across from the Culmer Metrorail Station on property still owned by David Lynn Catering.  He stated that the Economic Development & Commerce Subcommittee voted to oppose this project.  The property is within the boundary of the SGCA but it is not within the historic boundary, it is across the street.  The proposed location is surrounded by habitat for humanity single-family homes.  The developer of the property is Albert Milo, Jr. of the Urban Development Group (UDG), who was invited, but unable to attend this MRC meeting.  The UDG has set up a non-profit organization to apply for and receive $500,000 in County surtax funding for mortgages for lower income buyers.  There have been no public meetings regarding this project because the developer is not asking for any variances of any kind.  Ernie stated that this building is out of character with the surrounding area since it is a 12-story building surrounded by single-family homes.  Ernie also maintained that this project is not consistent with the Urban Infill Plan, which was adopted by the MRC as our strategic plan.  Ernie further stated that the University of Miami School of Architecture conducted a study and they found that it would be better if the property would be developed to a maximum of 6-stories.  He stated that the SGCA is opposed to the density of people that this development would bring to the area.  He closed his comments by stating that habitat for humanity has built 29 low-income homes in the area that are zoned R-4.  These first time homebuyers have to pay taxes on R-4 property, which is putting a burden on them.  The Urban Infill Plan proposed to change this zoning designation, but until that happens we will keep running into situations like this one. With the R-4 zoning designation, the developers are well within their rights to build a 12-story residential building.  

            Ernie Martin introduced Jim Broton the president of SGCA.  He passed out a hand out with diagrams showing where the proposed building will be located to the board members.  Jim stated that although this building looks nice, they are opposed to it because it is not in keeping with the character and scale of the neighborhood.  He stated that this building would be detrimental to the area from possible pollution from the building, increased traffic, parking problems and increase in population.  Jim stated that there are 344 vacant units in the area out of a total of 1,345 units; approximately 25% of the available housing is vacant.  He stated that due to this fact there would not be a large demand for the additional 110 units.  Phil Everingham stated that the developer was invited to the meeting but he could not make it.  All of the MRC members received a statement from the developer in their monthly information packets for consideration.  Ernie stated that this development is opposed not for the fact that it is low income, but because of the density.  Gary Winston asked Ernie under the law how he planned on stopping this development when it seems that they have everything in place to move forward with this process.  Ernie stated that very little could be done, but it is the principle of the matter.  He said that until the City implements the Urban Infill Plan, specifically land use and zoning section, there is nothing that could really be done.  Commissioner Barreiro advised the group that the developer stated that the project would go forward even if they do not receive the County surtax $500,000 funding.  This development is near the Metrorail, which is what the City & County want in order to cut down on traffic and utilize public transportation.  Megan Kelly stated that the Economic Development & Commerce Subcommittee recommended against the expenditure of funds due to the project’s direct conflict with the Urban Infill Plan and they did fully understand the benefits that Commissioner Barreiro stated.  Megan Kelly made a motion to oppose the current version of the Seybold Pointe Development Plan in principle because it is not consistent with the Urban Infill Plan.  Sallye Jude seconded the motion.  Discussion ensued.  During discussion the motion was redrafted in a manner acceptable to the motion makers as follows: Motion to oppose the Seybold Pointe Development Plan as it is not consistent with the Urban Infill Plan; however, the MRC does support the subsidy for low income housing.  The MRC is also strongly recommending that the developer meet with the local neighborhood residents to hear their concerns with the intent to develop a plan to mitigate the potential problems.  The redrafted motion passed unanimously.  The general feeling of the MRC members was that the problem lies with the City zoning and the City should adopt the urban infill plan, particularly with respect to recommended zoning changes, to prevent the continuing problems occurring with the high-density development next to single-family residential properties.

IV.            Committee Reports

a.         Dredging Working Group

The group met on December 18, 2002.  The dredging project is on schedule.  The Request for Proposals (RFP) is scheduled for release on January 30, 2003.  Roman stated that the County’s required land certification would go out to the Corps by the 30th of January.  The property that is in limbo is not absolutely necessary for the Corps to go ahead with the dredging project.  The bank-to-bank letter went out and they have started to receive some responses.  The letter contained a diagram and explanation of the project.  David stated that the letter said that they would be removing contaminated sediments from their property and some owners are a little worried about how the letter is worded because it seems like the contamination is coming from the particular property owner.  The next dredging working group meeting is January 15, 2003 at 11 am at the Rosenstiel School and the Department of Environmental Protection is invited to attend to discuss the Water Quality Certification.

b.    Public Safety and Security

Gary Winston stated that the Miami-Dade Police Department Intergovernmental Bureau would now be regularly involved with the MRC thanks to Bruno Barreiro and Capt. Jim Watson.  Robert Berris and Marco Pascual were             introduced to the MRC as representatives of the Intergovernmental Bureau. 

c      Miami River Corridor Urban Infill Plan

Brett stated that in December three items went before the City Commission.  Two of the items passed and the third resolution, which pertains to the economic study, will go back before the City Commission in January.  Brett thought that Fran Bohnsack made a good point at the Urban Infill meeting.  She had stated that the data looked at should be from 2000 since the data collected since then was affected by 9/11.  Dianne Johnson stated that the RFP for the economic analysis will go out within a couple of weeks and they are primarily looking for economists with a partner or a background in land use planning.  Sandy O’Neil stated that she felt that an MRC staff member should sit on the proposal review committee rather than Dick Bunnell, who was selected by the executive committee.  She thought his participation could be perceived as a conflict of interest and may hinder his future dealings with the City.  Dick stated that he did not feel that he would have a conflict in any way.

d.        Greenways Subcommittee

            There is a meeting tomorrow at 9 am and it is important for the marine industry to attend in relation to the work that FDOT is going to be doing on the greenway underneath I-95 near Jose Marti Park.  The ground breaking of this project should be in the near future.  The Lummus Landing RFP was awarded in December.  At the December meeting of the City Commission a directive for an expedited greenway development plan was issued and due back before the City within 30 days.  The MRC is working with the City, specifically Dianne Johnson to accomplish this task.

f.        Economic Development & Commerce

            There is an affordable housing project proposed on the River’s northwest bank just west of the 27th Avenue Bridge, which is where the marine industry is firmly entrenched.  The developer thinks that their design would be somewhat compatible with a marine industrial use.  The Miami River Marine Group will be meeting with the developer to discuss the potential development of this site and how it will impact the marine industry.  Currently, this site has an active marine operator permit. 

            FDOT has scheduled a community meeting on January 9 concerning the PD& E study for the 5th Street Bridge.  It will be held at the Lummus Park Community Center at two separate times:  10 am or 5 pm.

VI.       New Business

            Brett stated that the MRC was awarded a $5000 grant from Miami-Dade County for Riverday.  All members please note that Riverday 2003 is at Jose Marti Park on April 5, 2003 from 11 am to 5 pm.

IV. Adjournment 


There being no further business to come before the meeting, the meeting adjourned at  1:50 pm

_______________________________Recording Secretary