Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Cutler Bay Property on Development Track? By Geniusofdespair

This property is surrounded by South Florida Water Management Land and is in the footprint of a Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Project. It is high and dry in comparison to the land around it.

From CutlerBay.Net Website:
Cutler Properties LC purchased the 138 acre parcel of land situated between the Palmetto Bay Village Center (old Burger King HQ) and Cutler Cay, in October 2003. In addition to the 9+ acres of buildable land fronting Old Cutler Rd, asked for an environmental variance to fill and develop an additional 33.12 acres of wetland area. This property is located in the footprint of the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Project (BBCW), a plan to rehydrate the coastal wetlands, and is one of the components of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).

At the November 9th, 2006 Environmental Quality Control Board (EQCB) meeting, residents from Cutler Bay and Palmetto Bay as well as representatives from the Tropical Audubon Society and Biscayne National Park spoke out in opposition to this variance.

The EQCB granted Cutler Properties LC two additional continuances in order for the owner to meet with the community. Concerned residents sent almost 400 emails to the EQCB protesting this development. Just prior to the EQCB meeting on January 11th, 2007, Cutler Properties withdrew their application.
Handsome guy...

The Manager of this property, according to corporate files is Edgardo A. DeFortuna. I would suppose that means he is the owner as well even though he dabbles mostly in downtown deals.  Rumor has it that one of the biggest complainers about this property being developed tried to purchase the property from DeFortuna and was rejected. Is Sour Grapes the real reason for his opposition, not environmental concerns and opposition to Dover Kohl's New Urbanism as he professes. However, the planners have a lot planned for this very small parcel on the edge of environmental land. What is up with that Victor? It is currently zoned for single family residential which is 5 units per acre. They are seeking a change to mixed use zoning. I am a proponent of New Urbanism but in the right place. That message is to you too handsome guy.

DRUM ROLL: THE LOBBYISTS on this project?? I called the town of Cutler Bay to ask and left a message for the Clerk and the Manager and no one got back to me. The Manager called me this morning and said the Clerk had the information.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

It will be a 4-1 vote in favor of this project. The town council will talk of the benefits to the tax base and what is best for the community. No one will care that the town is well on its way to doubling its population due to this unsustainable growth. JLC owns 3 votes.

Anonymous said...

Here's the real story: Developer buys 130 acres for 2 million. Makes 22 million when the community and SFWMD decide they want to conserve the land rather than turning the last piece of green along Old Cutler into "mixed use" housing bubble fodder. Developer comes back and tries to squeeze even more profit out of the last 9 acres. Bottom line: These folks need an unwarranted zoning change to get what they want in this round. Citizens of Cutler Bay have to stand up and kick their mayor and council members out of DeFortuna's bed.

Anonymous said...

The lobbyists include Mayor Peggy Bell and councilman Sue Loyzelle's campaign consultant, Jose L. Castillo. Also includes Hugo Arza and Juan Mayol. Cutlerbay.net has the list of lobbyists registered with the town on the website.

www.cutlerbay.net/docs/2015%20Lobbyist%20Information%20updated%2004-06-15.pdf

Geniusofdespair said...

thank you

Anonymous said...

They want to be up-zoned from low density residential/conservation to mixed use. Mixed use allows for 4 stories in height on 8 acres sandwiched between a wetland restoration area and Old Cutler Road. The number of residential units increases from 5 per acre to up to 30 units per acre. All this at Old Cutler Road and 184th Street, adding to the unbearable traffic already at that intersection, which will soon be getting the increased traffic from Palmer Trinity's expansion and entrance changing to 184th St.

Here is the zoning application for those wanting to dig into the issue.
http://www.cutlerbay.net/docs/cutlerproperties/FLUM-2014-010.pdf

Anonymous said...

This is not as simple as a zoning change, this first involves a change in the MASTER PLAN (Growth Management Plan) of Cutler Bay. That is a very big deal. These are not changes that should be approved readily by the Cutler Bay Mayor and town council, the five individuals who will decide this. The bar should be extremely high for such changes and the scrutiny intense. Such power in such few hands. So much is at stake here, really the future of Old Cutler Rd and neighboring communities.
A lot has been circulated on whether or not Cutler Bay officials have political debts to pay to lobbyists that represent this project, primarily Jose Luis Castillo and a few others who made campaign contributions. Castillo is both a lobbyist for the developer and X-campaign manager for several local officials not only in Cutler Bay but also in Palmetto Bay. Speculate away what are the ramefications here.
One thing is clear, there is great opposition broadly in the community to this change to mixed use at this small but prominent 9 acre site and there are no good reasons that justify this higher density land use and zoning. Smart gowth and New Urbanism arguments and pretty pictures are just a ruse by the proponents to get their way. Its an inappropriate location for all that and it's nonsense.
Only time and the actual votes will tell whether or not our politicians truly listen and vote as most of their constituents would like (NO), or as the developer and paid lobbyists are pushing for (YES). We will know soon enough whether we have responsible and responsive local government to the residents, or to others mainly intent in maximizing their profits.

Anonymous said...

Palmetto Bay's Mayor Eugene Flinn had a great suggestion at the last meeting. He suggested that the town of Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest and Cutler Bay hold a community Old Cutler Road charrette. Although Cutler Bay already held one in 2004, expanding it to include these other communities is a great idea. If all three communities would put a moratorium on any zoning changes until a long range plan was created it would certainly be a step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Classic Florida land grab. Just ask Adam Putnam how it works.

Anonymous said...

Great idea about the 3 towns looking at this unique historic corridor together. There is not an urgent need to rush to a hasty decision to overturn Cutler Bay's comp plan and zoning designation for a poorly conceived mixed use development on this skinny parcel of open space.

Working together, who knows, maybe town, county, state (amend. 1), feds, private sector can secure funds for park/conservation area and truly add something of long-term benefit!

Anonymous said...

To add insult to injury, if Cutler Bay approves this thing the developer is also asking the city to give our own land known as right of way to them for free. Why? Because the developers own traffic study doesn't support two entrances to the project from Old Cutler Road. It's the only way they can build this thing to get the land from the city. Cutler Bay shouldn't give this out of town billionaire one square inch of our land. Let them figure out how to get in and out of that mess through their own damn property! Figure it out, you have 9 acres. Build a frikin overpass or tunnel into it if you have to.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Eye, minor correction to your blog about the 9 acres. Under the map of the property it says the land is high and dry in comparison to the lands around. Well not exactly so. In reality about half of the 9 acres the eastern half is fairly low land in the range of 3 to 6 ft. in elevation above sea level. Why does this matter? Because for the developer to build anything at all on all those acres they will have to raise the land several feet to meet minimum standards for development on low land subject to flooding. That will mean truckloads upon truckloads of rocky fill all coming down Old Culer Rd and Sw 184 St. And that should be a lot of fun for all of us.

Geniusofdespair said...

I asked a county official.

Anonymous said...

There is no legal reason why the town can not vote no to this. They are not obligated to increase the zoning on any property. The builder is free to go ahead and build his 5 houses per acre. But no, he want's to change our long term plans and build a 3 to 4 story monstrosity shoved up against old cutler road to make more money for himself. He already made 20 million when he sold the majority of the land to SFWMD. Enough is enough! If this goes through it will be not be because it is what the people want. It will be because of the money donated to several cutler bay council members campaigns by the attorneys and lobbyists of this project. It will be because they hired one of these same lobbyists to run their reelection campaigns. It will be because they have sold their souls and forgot that we incorporated to keep this kind of political “pay to play” nonsense out of our community.

Anonymous said...

Please consider the impact to our environment? Forget about the traffic!

Eduardo de Aragon said...

What they propose to build there ( including a bed & breakfast because "we need one for in-laws that come and visit") is a good site plan but IN THE WRONG LOCATION. We need to re-purpose, re-develop and retrofit existing facilities and developed areas and protect what little green remains. There is a Master Plan for a reason and to change it should require a major justification, more than an increased tax base. This individual does not live anywhere near here and he will not have to live with any of the consequences of his development, we will. During the South Dade Solutions Summit Leaders Workshop held this past Saturday at Palmetto Bay Center community leaders of South Dade overwhelmingly endorsed the idea of protecting what green is left. The Mayor and at least two Council members from Cutler Bay were present. They know what the community thinks. i hope they listened.

Carl Rachelson said...

The quality of life for residents should be the primary concern for residents living in any community. This piece of land, by virtue of its location, is quite special.

It seems obvious that one developer and a small circle of people will profit from this if it goes through. Everyone else will suffer. There are none, including the developer and friends who will benefit.

There is no gain from this project -- just greater habitat loss, increased congestion, and greater cynicism from a public who will rant, rave, and despair.

Where is the reasoning? Where is the sensibility? Where is the respect for nature? Where is the vision?

Is there nothing beyond individual profit?

Why can't Cutler Bay buy this?

Anonymous said...

Mind if I fill in a few blanks? In 2006 the public fought against the owner wanting to fill in 33 acres of wetlands. He was not concerned about the environment, he was concerned about profit. SFWMD understood that to complete Phase II of the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Project they would need to “take” that property. The owner spent just over 2 million dollars for the entire 130+ acres. He sued SFWMD and after a battle lasting over 3 years agreed to sell 122 acres, but not this 9 acre track. SFWMD spent 24 million dollars of your tax dollars on this land giving the property owner almost 22 million dollars in profit.

Now, the same owner wants to make even more money and is asking the town of Cutler Bay to increase the zoning from single-family residential (5 residences per acre) to mixed use which includes commercial development and up to 30 residences per acre. Once he gets the rezoning he can either build or sell. Other property owners will follow his example and Old Cutler Road will match US-1 only the traffic will be even worse. Remember, it's two lanes that, by State law, can not be widened.

To put this idea of rezoning into the best possible light, the owner hired Dover and Cole produce a set of drawings of what COULD be built. Nothing prevents the owner from getting the rezoning and turning around and selling the property or just changing his mind. At that point the drawings can go into the trash and we could end up with just about anything provided it included residential and/or a mix of business and commercial.

But even if he does build what does the community get? More traffic at an intersection about to get more congested due to Palmer Trinity's expansion and entrance change. We get up to 4 story high buildings clinging to a half mile stretch of Old Cutler Road. Residents will have to leave this “micro-village” for work, groceries, entertainment, and everything else. This is not on a transportation corridor. It is, simply put, higher density being promoted as “smart growth”.

Anonymous said...

I live in Ohio but we own two properties in Cutler Bay; one in Cutler Cay. It is/was our dream location after retirement. I've been nervously watching all this from afar but this proposed development will negatively impact us as well. Politics can be an ugly business no matter what state you're from but this proposal not only goes against the majorities wishes but will harm the environment as well. I don't know the players but surely deep pockets and hidden hand shakes are involved. Color me disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Ohio hypocrite. Cutler Cay destroyed the environment. Brought hundreds of homes onto the bay and lied about a golf course that was never built. You got some nerve to stick your nose into this debate. Stay the hell in Ohio.

Anonymous said...

Hey, this blog is not about attacking private citizens whether from here or Ohio. There are a lot of great people who bought houses in Cutler Cay and Saga Bay and Lakes by the Bay etc. All those lands were low coastal wetlands at one time. We cannot change the past where prior to imminent climate change big projects were built where now they probably wouldn't be. But we can prevent BIG irresponsible development mistakes in the future. And by the way the golf course in what is now Cutler Cay is precisely the game big developers play. Promise one thing and get all your development rights ducks in a row. Then just turn around and build something of much higher density, impact, and for way more profit. The old bait and switch. So it's an important lesson of what could happen on the 9 acres on OCR and 184. But anyway please refrain from slamming people. State your opinion but no need for name calling. Keeping it civil.

Anonymous said...

Unecessary roughness on the Ohioan! Lot's of very nice folks bought homes in C Cay, Lakes in the Bay, and Soggy Bay. These were built before what we know now as imminent climate change. All these communities were built on low land east or south of the Miami rock ridge along OCR. Now knowing what we know is coming these might not have gotten built. But about the golf course. That was the typical bait and switch by developers. Promise one thing get your zoning and permits then build another more lucrative thing, which usually means higher density. So let it be a lesson for the nine acres. And please go easy on the Ohio folks, they are nice people up there.

Anonymous said...

Interesting--side by side stories from 184th and Old Cutler. The South Dade Summit at old Burger King site last Sat. with 200 people discussing action plan for long term community vision. Very important but just 1 comment posted. Across the street the well-discussed and ill-conceived 9 acre development proposal (21 comments and counting). Tells me people are fed up with politicians and the influence peddlers trying to tell us what's best for us when their bank accounts are all they care about. This community will be on the offensive at every step of the way in big numbers fighting for what is right.

Anonymous said...

Interesting--2 side-by-side stories from 184th and Old Cutler. Both important, the South Dade Summit last Sat at old BK site that drew 200 (only 1 comment). Across the street, the well-discussed and ill-conceived 9 acre development proposal (with 21 comments and counting). Tells me people are fed up and ready to show up to fight for what's right. We're tired of politicians and influence-peddlers trying to tell us what's good for us when all they care about is $ in their pockets!

Anonymous said...

When people have no good arguments they attack and personalize it. No worries Ohio-Cutler Cay people, you have just as much right as any others to state your opinions. And I'm sure you know the history of your community and understand it's still controversial and even painful for some. But all that happened more than 10 years ago even before we incorporated in Cutler Bay. And those development decisions were made at the county level. And as others have pointed out we know a lot more now that waters will probably rise.

But now we have no excuse. We incorporated precisely for the reason to have better control on responsible growth. Now we can only blame our bad or good future growth on ourselves and those that we elect to represent us. I say place blame on ourselves because it's up to us to hold those who represent us accountable with their feet to the fire.

And If they want smooth re-elections and shinning legacies then they will remember to vote with the people, their people, not against. Ask a recently not re-elected Mayor of a neighboring city and an incumbent not re-elected District 8 Commissioner about all of that!

Anonymous said...

Squeeze squeeze squeeze until we can't breathe. To hell with the environment and to hell with the creatures that share the environment. Money talks and everything else is a non entity. What a philosophy.

Anonymous said...

Bit more detail on the 9 acres. The current zoning is not just single family residential. It's an usual designation which is Conservation/single family residential. Why is that? All those lands, the 129 bought by the SFWMD in 2010 and the 9 acres they didn't buy were all intended to have the option in the zoning that if they did not get developed they would be available for conservation purposes. As a result the Cutler Bay Parks Master Plan even today specifically mentions and recommends purchasing ALL that acreage up to Old Cutler Rd. for conservation purposes and parkland. Cutler Bay got lucky and the SFWMD bought most of it, to the benefit of the town. And this mostly as a result of protracted and steadfast community engagement over FOUR years! Can't Cutler Bay finish the job now? Can't a city with 22 million dollars in reserves find partners and approach the property owner and come to a fair price to purchase the 9 acres. There are organizations out there such as Trust for Public Lands and Nature Conservancy that will work with communities to do just that. Then there is Amendment 1 funds that could come into play a bit down the line. Or donating part or all of the land by the land owner could be one heck of a tax write off for them! What is needed in Cutler Bay is a long term vision for what our city could be, the premier environmental city not just in Miami-Dade County but in all of SE Florida. We the residents of Cutler Bay and Palmetto bay need to remind our leaders that we want more passive parks and green space, not one just one more commercial strip mall connected to a row of apartments, all disguised as "smart growth". No matter how pretty you make this it will never provide the long term human and environmental benefits, and higher property values that open green space will. Take a look at NYC, what would Manhattan be without Central Park. These 9 acres as a park connected to the hundreds of acres further east could be our future crowning gem. And all who supported it would have the most amazing lasting legacy.

Anonymous said...

As someone said before, there is no legal reason to change the zoning. Let them build their single family homes. No high rise buildings on Old Cutler. We will see if this council is listening to the developers, lobbyists, or the residents. Cutler Bay claims they are a green city with rules and plans that promote green growth, trees and your basic environmental good guy claims. This is NOT green. This is not smart growth. I've been hearing people talking about starting a recall petition. If this goes through, I'd sign it.

Anonymous said...

If i were a betting person, and I'm not, I still wouldn't wager real money on how the 5 on the Cutler Bay council will vote. A prior commenter said the vote would be 4-1 in favor of the development as a result of council members being bought by the developer and their lobbyists. i'm still guardedly hopeful that the council will fully grasp how unpopular this is and how tarnished their names would be should they vote in favor.

But as an amateur handicapper, here's how I see this right now with the five that will vote:

Sue Ellen Loyzelle is the council member that represents those residents closest to the 9 acre property. A yes vote by her will always be remembered unfavorably by those that will be most be impacted by increased traffic around and in their neighborhoods. So one would thing she might be swayed to vote no, and I'm sure she's hearing an earful from her constituents. UNFORTUNATELY, SEL's former campaign manager is none other than Jose Luis Castillo, who also doubles as lobbyist for this project and the developer. See how that works? So SEL has a choice, vote with her people and secure a future election if she still wants one in C Bay. Or vote with her wealthy friends who will fund future campaigns either in Cutler Bay or elsewhere. On balance I see here voting YES with the developer. SEL please prove me wrong!

Roger Coriat is the newest council member and thus has no favors to repay to anyone. In addition Roger is known to understand environmental issues. And he listens to his constituents. Thus in my opinion he is a NO vote on this issue. That one was easy.

Maryann Mixon has in the past voted favorably on green issues and parks. This vote will test her true bonafides in that area. Question is have the lobbyists gotten to her? Hard to tell as Mixon never answers emails sent to her, at least not on this issue. I have nothing to base this one on except her past behavior so I will skeptically place her in the NO column, but a YES would not surprise me.

Vice Mayor Ernie Sochin. Where to begin...Ernie has never seen a development he has ever disliked. He is a proponent of widening historically designated Old Cutler Rd to 3 or 4 lanes. Basically, Ernie is out to lunch in my opinion. He is very full of himself as an expert on many matters thus declaring in an article he wrote as a regular in a local newspaper column that the answer to all our ills in Cutler Bay would be to make him "dictator" Unfortunately for Ernie, when he clip-arted a military hat and photo shopped it on his head for an image in the article, it was of a Nazi prison camp guard. Oooops, Ernie is Jewish. Ernie is not inclined to listen to people in the community but since he's so pro development I bet he's been listening to others. He's a goner, he's a YES.

Thus we are at 2 YES and 2 NO - barely.

So that leaves Mayor Peggy Bell, and all appears to ride on her shoulders.

Much has been spoken and written on Mayor Bell's campaign manager being none other than Jose Luis Castillo, and as already mentioned he too is a lobbyist for the developer. Also Bell received many campaign contributions from several others also affiliated with this developer. But in her defense through her career in C Bay, Bell has been very pro parks and environmental lands. She seems to be listening to the community by at least sending polite email responses on this matter. But does the developer have her ear even more strongly than we do? That is the key to her vote and I have no idea how this will play out.

It could very easily turn out 3-2 YES or NO, as many votes in C Bay often do. Thus community engagement will be key in securing at least 3 NO votes.

Mike P. said...

The proposed application does not include a traffic study which is still pending. Is the developer shopping around for a traffic consultant that will say what they want?

Common sense tells anyone that drives on Old Cutler Road that traffic is already TERRIBLE. How could anyone thing that adding hundreds of residential units and commercial units do anything other than turn OCR into a permanent parking lot? Traffic starts backing up as early as 6am. Evening rush hour starts in the late afternoon!

The area CANNOT handle any more development.

The plans proposed by the developer look very pretty but notince that none of the renderings show more than a single car parked on the road. This will bring HUNDREDS of new cars. Anyone living on OCR will basically be forced to leave for work at 5am to avoid insane traffic.

Anonymous said...

Dover's proposed developments seldom show vehicles because in their perfect world, everyone rides bicycles.

Anonymous said...

Put pressure on Cutler Bay's village council; it works. That's how you got rid of Satan himself, Steven Alexander. It's a wonderful stroke of luck that City of South Miami's Mayor Phil Stoddard, hand-picked Alexander to be his puppet, otherwise, Alexander would still be plying Cutler Bay's waters looking for lobbyist work.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know why after the developer rushed to hold dog and pony show in April on the project, it will be no sooner than August before the 1st town council hearing?

Anonymous said...

The propaganda show in April was a joke. They insinuated that if we didn't like their design and encourage the council to agree we might get stuck with a a strip mall or Wendys. That is a blatant lie. The zoning can stay the same and they can build single family homes on that lot. That is the current zoning. If the council gives into these peoples demands and changes the zoning, then the owner could sell and then we could end up with something we don't want - like a Wendys or strip mall. Keep the zoning the way it is and we don't have to worry.

At the end of their presentation, they refused to let the audience ask any questions. They claimed to have met with local residents only to find out that their outreach existed of 4 people. The place was crawling with people wanting to talk one on one with the attendees. Were all these people registered lobbyists?

The cutler bay council doesn't have to change a thing. They can keep the zoning the way it is and the developer can build his single family homes. Changing the zoning is NOT something the council has to do. It is something the owner, a multimillionaire wants. He doesn't end up having to live with the consequences. He just goes back to him 20 million dollar home in Key Biscayne laughing at his ability to pull the strings and get what he wants from our elected officials.

Anonymous said...

My understanding of why the hold up on this getting to the town agenda is it has to do with their first traffic study which they submitted to Cutler Bay which apparently was so flawed that CB asked for them to try it again. Of course I wonder why CB would even ask them to try it again, is it that they are looking for a traffic study that at least allows the city to say "well not so bad". Why not just let them submit their crappy study and let it be what it is. Anyway no traffic study can hide the fact that OCR in Cutler Bay is already a mess, and if this gets built and other things around it too like Palmer, which IS coming SOON, then a mess will be a disaster for those who live here. When is enough bad development enough?!!! Put development where there is public transportation, major thoroughfares, away from near coast areas prone to storm surge, etc. This is just the wrong place for this little gem of a Dover Kohl fantasy. This is just about the owner getting a master plan change and zoning change to artificially drive up the cost of the property. Simple as that. Then they either build it, but likely at much higher mixed use density residential, or sell it to the next guy. Profits maximized! But at out costs for whatever nightmare gets built there. I'm with the last commenter, NO Cutler Bay, don't give them this, let them built their 30 or so houses if they want to. Then let them go away!