In The News

Storage Facility At Center Of Lawsuit

Miami Herald, The (FL)

January 23, 2000
Section: Neighbors NE
Edition: Final
Page: 3NE


They vowed they would fight back - and they have. After losing a battle to stop construction of a storage facility in their neighborhood last year, a group of property owners in the Greynolds Park area has appealed Community Council No. 2's approval of the project.

A panel of three Dade Circuit Court judges heard the case on Wednesday. ``The whole neighborhood is against the proposed project. This type of monster building just doesn't belong at that location,'' said Charles Baron, one of the petitioners. He lives in the Greynolds Park Club Condominium, 17890 W. Dixie Hwy., which sits next to a parcel of vacant land where developers want to put the storage facility. Last July, the council approved plans by Smithsonian Investment to build a 92-square-foot, five-story self-storage warehouse and parking lot on a 2.1-acre tract. Only part of the land is zoned for commercial use.

Now relief is on the way - or so Florida legislators hope, as new laws took effect Friday to give homeowners in associations more rights.

The land is divided into four lots. The first one, adjacent to West Dixie, is zoned commercial and the other three residential. Smithsonian applied for several variances, including setbacks and parking, that were approved by the council.

The storage building will occupy the first lot while the parking lot will be built on part of the second. The third and fourth lots will remain undeveloped as landscaped areas.

"It's a good project and a very big asset to the neighborhood,'' said Joseph Geller, an attorney for the developer. ``A lot of other things could be built that are worse for the community.''

But neighbors don't buy that.

Back in July, they told the council that an increase in traffic and crime and a decrease in property values were some of the reasons they opposed the project. But the council approved the project 5-1 based on the recommendation made by the county's planning and zoning department.

According to the recommendation, the developer presented a plan that is compatible with the neighborhood, said Craig Coller, assistant county attorney

"The zoning part of this issue has to do with whether this proposal is adverse to the public interest,'' Coller said. ``The site plan is well balanced and well designed. West Dixie already has other commercial buildings.''

But Eric Glazer, the attorney for the Greynolds Park neighbors, argued that, among other things, experts who testified on behalf of the project failed to file documents with the zoning department, as required.

"None of that evidence should have been admitted,'' Glazer said. ``The court is going to rule in my clients' favor because the [council] used the wrong standards.'' The court's decision on the appeal could take several weeks.

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