North Miami Council Reverses Board of Adjustment Decision on Height Variance

In a turn of events, the North Miami City Council unanimously reversed a decision by the Board of Adjustment granting a height variance for a large-scale development project. The council’s rigorous debate on the variance highlighted concerns over the Board of Adjustment’s decision-making process, the interpretation of city code, and the proper channels for handling such variances.

The discussion on the variance began with city staff presenting their appeal to reverse the Board of Adjustment’s grant of a height variance for a property in North Miami. The staff contended that the Board did not adhere to the essential legal requirements and that their decision lacked competent substantial evidence. They emphasized the need for the proper process to be followed and for the mayor and city council to have a say in significant policy decisions, including the height of developments in the Bay Shore Zone.

City staff and the board attorney argued that financial hardships, which were part of the Board of Adjustment’s considerations for granting the variance, are not a legal basis for such a decision according to Florida case law. They maintained that the variance could have been more appropriately addressed through a text amendment to the Land Development regulations.

A resident appealed the decision, citing potential community impacts such as flooding and increased density that could result from the variance. They stressed the importance of following the correct legal processes and expressed concern that the Board of Adjustment lacked the expertise to interpret land development regulations properly.

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In response, the attorney representing the applicant countered that the city staff had not provided clear advice on the text amendment process and that the appeal against the variance was untimely. They argued that the variance request met the city code’s criteria and that the city staff’s challenge was not supported by the code itself.

The council’s discussion further delved into the role and decision-making authority of the Board of Adjustment, with a council member questioning the board’s representation and the staff recommendation’s weight in such decisions. There was a consensus among council members that they had previously not scrutinized the board’s decisions closely.

In an unprecedented move, the council unanimously decided to reverse the Board of Adjustment’s decision, with a council member highlighting the necessity for height determinations to always come before the city council to prevent similar issues.

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Apart from the variance debate, the meeting covered several other relevant topics. Jeff Gimr, the assistant Public Works director, presented updates on capital projects, including various park improvements and infrastructure repairs. The mayor requested visual presentations for future updates.

The council approved the unanimous appointment of Mark W. Bob to the Charter board and discussed a vacancy on the Parks Commission due to a resignation, with Claudia Pasino nominated for the position.

Additionally, Alberto Estrada, the purchasing director, detailed the proposed resolution for the purchase and installation of an interactive water feature for the Breeze swept Park and Tot Lot project, which was unanimously approved during the public hearing. The council also passed a unanimous vote for the issuance of purchase orders for Microsoft 365 licenses and subscriptions and tabled two items for the March 26th meeting.

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City announcements featured plans for a study on speeding and cut-through traffic, community sessions for ongoing issues, an extended initiative for seniors, tax preparation services, a Black History Month block party, and a gardening workshop.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Mayor:
Alix Desulme
City Council Officials:
Scott Galvin, Kassandra Timothe, Mary Estimé-Irvin, Pierre Frantz Charles

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