Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Environmental post - FWC info on Gopher Tortoises

Gopher tortoises are long-lived reptiles that occupy upland habitat throughout Florida including forests, pastures, and yards. They dig deep burrows for shelter and forage on low-growing plants. Gopher tortoises share their burrows with more than 350 other species, and are therefore referred to as a keystone species. In Florida, the gopher tortoise is listed as Threatened. Both the tortoise and its burrow are protected under state law. Gopher tortoises must be relocated before any land clearing or development takes place, and property owners must obtain permits from the FWC before capturing and relocating tortoises. 

I posted this as I was fortunate to receive an inquiry from someone who encountered a gopher tortoise in their yard and wondered whether it was a pet or if they could adopt it. They asked as to the type of tortoise it was. They cannot as it is a protect species in Florida. It is a very lucky person who has a gopher tortoise and a burrow in their yard, but you may not domesticate it.  

I am sure this example happens at other times, hence I post the FWC information as a guide. Make your homes native animal friendly.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Seeking updates on the SW 136th Street MEGA sidewalk project. Is the grand Photo Op ceremony still on for Friday, October 2nd

Fair question:  Is the grand Photo Op ceremony still on for Friday, October 2nd? I ask as there is nothing posted about a ceremony on the Village Website or Facebook page. Perhaps this is a "by invitation only" event.

Another delay would be par for the course of this administration. Kick the issue down the road, take it undercover, anytime any controversy erupts. 

CLICK HERE to view prior related posts relating to the Howard Drive MEGA Sidewalk project.

Please send me any updates you may have as I am obviously out of the loop on this project.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Partial update on the LUXCOM litigation. Motion for status conference set for Tuesday, Sept 29.

The purpose of this post is to bring readers into the loop of just one of the several LUXCOM cases. I searched the Miami-Dade online court dockets to obtain this information. This update relates to the circuit court case of YACHT CLUB BY LUXCOM, LLC, v. VILLAGE OF PALMETTO BAY, FLORIDA, CASE NO: 2019-11663-CA-01. 

We may know more about after the management and seriousness of this one case after a 10 AM hearing set for this Tuesday, September 29.  The Plaintiff, LUXCOM, is requesting an opportunity to appear before the Court for a status conference. That would required the participation of the attorneys for Palmetto Bay. Among other things, LUXCOM claims that it wishes to discuss and obtain guidance from the Court on the Mandate issued on July 21, 2020 by the District Court of Appeal of the State of Florida for the Third District in Case No. 19-1495. The hearing on the request will be heard before the Honorable Spencer Eig, via Zoom conference call. 

I am curious. This is a 5 minute motion calendar, not a special set, setting aside sufficient time to allow the parties to begin to discuss and work out (or agree on what they disagree upon) the issues of one particular case. Are the two sides talking and trying to reach agreement or will everything take extensive attorney billing time to reach simple procedural understandings? Perhaps there will be no hearing, but instead an agreed order wherein the parties will agree to set a special hearing to get deep into the issues relating to this case that was reopened by the Third District Court of Appeal after it reversed the July 19, 2019, order of Judge Eig that had dismissed the case. Discussion and future proceedings are inevitable. 

I will bring readers into the loop with updates once we see the first steps post appellate court mandate.


January 22, 2020, LUXCOM and the Bert J Harris claim against Palmetto Bay: Is the planning letter of November 30, 2018, a "$21 million dollar letter"? Is this a $21 million dollar letter? Luxcom appears to believe so.

January 17, 2020, A medium length primer on Bert J. Harris Act claims. What we can expect (including a timeline). Link to Bert J Harris Act provided.

February 9, 2020, Property analysis - the tool box - trend of development report prepared by the firm of Calvin, Giordano & Associates, Information relevant to the Luxcom Bert J Harris Act claim (part of a series).

January 8, 2020, Miami Today (online version) Palmetto Bay hospital zoning battle in court - Written by Gabriel Poblete on January 7, 2020

There are more than 30 blog articles relating to LUXCOM - CLICK HERE

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Public input and support works – this time. Update – having no immediate alternative, council works out an agreement to have interim manager Truitt remain for the next few months.

 Thank you Village Employees, interested and involved positive Village residents, and Council Member David Singer. Your joint efforts have bought Palmetto Bay a few more months of Interim Manager Truitt who decided to extend his stay as announced at the meeting held on Wednesday, September 23, 2020.

I broke the news of the sudden resignation in my Monday, 9/21/2020,  blog post. The readership of this post was huge – and it lead to significant public input and statements of support for interim manager Truitt. Many residents have fond memories of him when he was our Village Police Commander. They have reason to fear another leadership vacuum.  

The fact that the (temporary) resignation was a surprise to the entire council demonstrates the level of toxicity of the manager/Mayor & Council relationship in Palmetto Bay. Hopefully, it may have been the shock they needed to step back and allow him to do his job for our community. I am aware of the efforts of Council Member David Singer to reverse the course and hold on to Greg Truitt. No other member of the village council made a public statement in support. That silence, in and of itself, spoke loudly.

I am also privy to the fact that many current village employees have rallied around their current interim leader, asking him not to leave behind a rudderless ship, heading for the rocks. Three failures at manager in two years is far too big a burden to shoulder. [I am including the last minute “no thank you” from Mike Renshaw (See post of July 15, 2020, CLICKHERE)]. This does not bode well for hiring a permanent manager. I personally had hope that it would be Interim Manager Truitt. The experience he has and has gained is hard to replace. Will Palmetto Bay get a qualified lateral transfer or will it be forced to settle on ‘a friend’ who has been out of work, chasing any position he or she can find? The behavior of this mayor and some of the council may limit the pool willing to serve the residents.  

I will tell you that the next manager, willing to serve the residents of this very fine village will be “in spite of” and “not because of” this current mayor and several of the council members.

My request to the current mayor and council: Let Interim Manger Truitt and staff do their jobs and remove the drama from this Village. The fact that there was a sudden written resignation demonstrates a huge fracture between the current mayor and management.  It never would have gotten as far as it did, his no-notice resignation, but for the tense atmosphere at Village Hall created by the mayor and several members of the council.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Facts are facts. Here are the facts concerning the SW 136 Street Bike Lanes project: It is a Joint Project (JPA) between Miami-Dade County and Palmetto Bay.

Word on the street is that the current mayor and other local officials are blaming Miami-Dade County for the MEGA sidewalk.  Stop it. Stop scapegoating Miami-Dade County. The ‘shared path’ slated for SW 136 Street is far from an exclusive project of Miami-Dade County. It is a Joint Participation Project  done under a contract known as a Joint Participation Agreement (JPA). This means:

You can't blame Miami-Dade County for the change from a bike lane to the MEGA (8-10 foot) shared path. The current Mayor and Village Council of Palmetto Bay had control over the project design. (* see last paragraph below for an explanation of a JPA).

The original plan: (Prior administration) The Palmetto Bay Village Council adopted Resolution No. 2017-47 approving the Joint Participation Agreement (JPA) with Miami-Dade County to construct a bicycle lane along SW 136 Street from US1 to Old Cutler Road.

This same Resolution, (2017-47) allocated a total of $500,000 in Village funds toward the project.

It was the Village of Palmetto Bay that negotiated a contract with RJ Behar as the design team. 

Miami-Dade County may be the ‘owner’ of SW 136 Street, but it was Palmetto Bay officials who negotiated and paid for the Design Team, and, therefore had full control over the design. The JPA is clear that it is the Village of Palmetto Bay that is providing the design of the Project at its (Palmetto Bay's) sole expense. 

Therefore, it is disingenuous for any Palmetto Bay elected official to deny Palmetto Bay's substantial participation and oversight in this project; to claim that the shared path is the County’s project.  This is simply not true. Palmetto Bay’s paid design team, RJ Behar, changed the plans from the bike lane to the shared path soon after the change in the Palmetto Bay administrations (December 5, 2018).  All this was accomplished without a single public meeting or discussion providing any notice to the general public that a change from bike lane to shared path was even being contemplated.

Bottom line (the facts): The current administration: the mayor, vice mayor and council members, are to be held responsible for any notice, or in this case, lack of notice as well as lack of inclusion of the residents who are most affected by this project.

Facts are facts. 

*  What is a Joint Participation Project (JPA)? In short, it is a working agreement, a contract providing for shared responsibility for a multi-governmental project. 
Notes of the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners Meeting of October 23, 2018 (research notes):

Section 2-9 of the Code of Miami-Dade County, (Contracts with municipalities or governmental units for services-Authority of Manager), authorizes the County Manager/Mayor to enter into contracts in behalf of this County with municipalities and other governmental units for joint performance with the County or performance by any municipality or other governmental unit in behalf of the County or any function or service which the County is authorized or directed to perform under Section 11, Article VIII of the Florida Constitution, the Home Rule Charter, or any ordinance adopted by the Board

Palmetto Bay Charter - Citizens' Bill of Rights - requires Truth in Government by our elected officials and employees

No Palmetto Bay official (Mayor, Vice Mayor and Members of the Council) or employees of the Village of Palmetto Bay may play fast and loose with the truth, misrepresenting the truth or twist facts to suit their political purpose. They are required by the Palmetto Bay Village Charter to speak the truth and not a filtered or convenient truth. This is the law in Palmetto Bay: “No municipal official or employee shall knowingly furnish false information on any public matter, nor knowingly omit significant facts when giving requested information to members of the public.”

I am proud to have participated in the incorporation process of our Palmetto Bay. The original Charter Committee made sure that the rights of our residents are protected through inclusion of a detailed Citizens’ Bill of Rights that remains untouched through several charter review processes.  Today I re-post one of the sections of our the Citizens’ Bill of Rights – focusing on subsection (2) – Truth in Government.

CLICK HERE to view the full section posted online through Municode.

 (A) This government has been created to protect the governed, not the governing. In order to provide the public with full and accurate information, to promote efficient administration management, to make government more accountable, and to insure to all persons fair and equitable treatment, the following rights are guaranteed:
           (2) Truth in Government. No municipal official or employee shall            knowingly furnish false information on any public matter, nor knowingly omit significant facts when giving requested information to members of the public.

          *** [Items (1) and (3) – (13) are omitted but can be viewed by clicking on the
          links posted below] ***

Municode is an online source for the Codes of most local governments.  CLICK HERE to reach the start page for the CODE OF ORDINANCES OF THE VILLAGE OF PALMETTO BAY, FLORIDA as published on Municode.

It may be time to look into remedies for any Palmetto Bay Official who violates their oath of office as well as the Charters of the Village of Palmetto Bay and Miami-Dade County.

Save, don’t pave the 22 acres! Residents, the original village council and I agree with the representatives of the Palmetto Bay Village Center – we all want the 22 acres to be permanently preserved. Protection needs to be by covenant, for 50 years plus, not a mere development order. An important read for anyone concerned with protecting the environment.

Why a covenant? Because a development order could be modified by a simple majority vote of this or any future mayor and council.  We need real environmental protection of 22 acres at the Palmetto Bay Village Center (PBVC).

This is one time when the applicant is right and the current Palmetto Bay Mayor and Council are WRONG.

Please take the time to review the concerns outlined by Sara Barli Herald, Esq., Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod, LLP. In the 4 page letter of September 16, 2020: 

This goal is entirely consistent with the actions of the Village Counsel and opinions voiced at public hearings in 2016. We believe, therefore, that the Declaration as drafted and approved by our client (a copy of which is attached) is necessary to protect and conserve this land for the benefit of future generations.

The attorney for the PBVC went on to state that they take issue with Palmetto Bay officials, who, through their Village Attorney:

… eliminated the majority of the environmental protections included in the draft Declaration that we had submitted to you. Instead, you placed on the agenda a stripped down version that completely disregards the environmentally sensitive aspects of the site. The following very important recitals, restrictions and provisions were stricken by you:

·       County Resolution R-469-08 adding the property to the Environmentally Endangered Lands ("EEL") Program Priority B Acquisition List

·       Village Resolutions 09-11 and 2017-53 affirming and reaffirming support for EEL decision and acquisition of site

·       Excerpt from County Home Rule Charter Section 7.01 pertaining to properties acquired for preservation and acknowledgment of requirements of Charter

·       Definition of "Passive Park"

·       Provision that restrictions shall be perpetual

·       Restriction limiting passive trails to pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles

·       Provision that a structure shall be ancillary to the passive park and limited in size

·       Provisions containing parking areas to designated locations

·       Prohibition against commercial signage

·       Designating residents and property owners of the Village as beneficiaries of the Declaration with rights of enforcement

 As a result, you have created a document with no teeth. Although you retained statements that environmental assets and natural landscape shall be preserved, those statements are aspirational only. With no designated beneficiaries and no enforcement mechanism, the Village will be at liberty to build with impunity whatever structures, roads or parking lots it may desire on environmentally sensitive land.

The entire excerpt above was taken from page 3 (of the 4 page letter).  CLICK HERE to view the correspondence of Sara Barli Herald, Esq., Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod, LLP., of September 16, 2020

You really must read this entire letter.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

You may not have noticed, but Fall season has arrived.

Most won't notice the subtle difference other than the days are getting shorter and soon we will set our clocks back an hour (Sunday, November 1, 2:00 am) providing us with what we really need, an extra hour of 2020.

Autumn 2020 begins Tuesday, September 22,  in the Northern Hemisphere, precisely at 9:31 AM (so in honor, that's when I set his post to go live). Autumn ends, ready or not, on Monday, December 21

 "Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree."
- Emily Brontë

For some, but not here in sunny South Florida. Occasionally, we get to mark Fall season by opening our windows for some fresh air (during 'cold fronts').

South Floridians are more likely to note the coming of Autumn, by the presence of Pumpkin Spice coffees, muffins and other 'seasonal' items (including special Halloween confections - pictured to the right) than by any changes in Fall leaves (spoiler alert for newcomers: don't wait for it, leaves here don't change)

Picture below, Autumn c/o Aldi:

From The Old Farmer’s Almanac (CLICK HERE):

The autumnal equinox—also called the September or fall equinox—is the astronomical start of the fall season in the Northern Hemisphere and of the spring season in the Southern Hemisphere.


The word “equinox” comes from Latin aequus, meaning “equal,” and nox, “night.” On the equinox, day and night are roughly equal in length. (See more about this below.)

During the equinox, the Sun crosses what we call the “celestial equator”—an imaginary extension of Earth’s equator line into space. The equinox occurs precisely when the Sun’s center passes through this line. When the Sun crosses the equator from north to south, this marks the autumnal equinox; when it crosses from south to north, this marks the vernal equinox.

Fall to most people:

Photos above: scenes from Fall in upstate NY.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Update on the MEGA Multipath slated for Howard Drive (Palmetto Bay side only). The colors really do bring out the contrast. (an update in a series)

Is this MEGA path needed? Has anyone ever told you that they would love to go for a walk along SW 136 Street, but said they couldn’t because the existing sidewalk is too narrow?  (NOTE - this POST WAS UPDATED 9/22/2020 at 10:15 AM) 

There is a standard sized sidewalk that runs from US1 all the way to Old Cutler Road.  Who asked for this multi-path and what will it really look like? 

The plans are tough to read, so I asked for someone to use color to fill in the sidewalk and the planned MEGA path to provide prospective. The blue marks the existing standard size sidewalk. The color orange is used to mark where these plans have the MEGA sidewalk placed for the home at 8100 SW 136 Street. Note that for this home, the sidewalk is not a 4 foot extension of the existing, but a complete 8-10 foot new creation that is a full 10 feet or more closer to the existing home. This path is not straight, it meanders, meaning that the impact will not be the same (will not be uniform) for all the homes that front Howard Drive. Some may hardly notice it, but some homes will have a HUGE impact, you might say a MEGA impact.

Sources tell me that there is a grand Photo Op ceremony set for Friday, October 2nd (the last day of the current Interim Manager who put in notice of his resignation on Monday, September 21, but that was a prior story.)

9/22/2020 update: I have a section for the area adjacent and in front of Howard Drive Elementary School - see updated pic below:

Note how the path curves with the radius of the intersection like a sidewalk, unlike a bike lane. Does the radius at the Southwest corner of 136/77 foreshadow a future project, extending the concrete MEGA path to eventually travel South along 77th Avenue to Coral Reef Park?

Does the MEGA Path also curve into 82nd Avenue at the intersection of 136/82 and, if so, which side of 82nd Avenue will the continuation of this path travel down?

FAIR QUESTION: If this path is so great, so safe, then why did Pinecrest pay more money so this project would be pushed off, out of Pinecrest and solely onto Palmetto Bay residents?

THE TOOL BOX: CLICK HERE to view related past posts relating to the dismantaling of the bike lanes and substituting them with the Howard Drive MEGA PATH. 

BREAKING NEWS - Palmetto Bay Interim Manager gives notice - to step down as of October 1, 2020.

I just learned that Interim Village Manager Greg Truitt has tendered his resignation as interim Village Manager.  Manager Truitt has gone from candidate for the permanent position as manger to (soon to be) former interim manager. 

The notice of resignation as Interim Village Manager is effective as of the close of business Friday, October 2, 2020. The signed original was left with the Village Clerk Missy Arocha.

What is going on here in Palmetto Bay?

Information to be updated as more information becomes available. 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Protecting the 22 acres. The Palmetto Bay Village Center (PBVC) offers up a detailed 50 year covenant to protect the 22 acres of precious environmentally sensitive land. Palmetto Bay officials object. Why? A very important read. My opinions included.

An insight as to why things are in Palmetto Bay.

Why does it appear that the owners of the Palmetto Bay Village Center (PBVC) are more concerned about protecting these 22 acres than our current Village officials (Council Member David Singer excluded as he has been on record as working to protect these 22 acres).  

The PBVC is working toward completing long term work to deed over these 22 acres; land that was designated as environmentally endangered by Miami-Dade County in 2008 [at the request of the original mayor (me) and village council], a designation supported by Biscayne National Park. In 2009 and again in 2017 the Village expressed continued support for public acquisition of this precious land. Quite frankly many of the current elected officials have played so many divisive political games with this property, that I believe they have boxed themselves in and don’t know who to resolve this issue.

Regardless, of the games, the PBVC may be nearing the finish line regarding protection of this land; however, opposition appears to be rearing its ugly head in a passive aggressive manner.  I provide links to read in full the complete 5 page DECLARATION OF COVENANTS, CONDITIONS, AND RESTRICTIONS, (CLICK HERE) prepared by: Sara Barli Herald, Esq., Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod, LLP. As well as a 4 page letter from Sara Barli Herald, Esq. (CLICK HERE) You should read them so the parties involved cannot allege that anything is being misquoted (as they so often like to do).

Why do so many ongoing issues involving the Current Mayor and Council appear to be a knife fight rather than rational conversations held in public? I include the following in these examples: LUXCOM, the DUV, litigation against Miami-Dade County (Over a 4 way stop) and now the PBVC, Why can’t we engage in protecting our environment without making it appear that Rock Pinelands is a bad idea (maybe protecting Pinelands are a ‘Liberal’ issue for them).

My takeaway, my opinion, is to question why it appears that they believe that this proposed Declaration “does not need to exist”? I believe that it certainly does, especially under the conditions provided and especially for the term of 50 years (if not even 100 or in perpetuity unless and until it would be modified by a 75 percent vote of the village electors, again after the initial 50 year term). I quote from this letter from Counsel for the PBVC (dated 9/16/2020) where in the statement is made, top of page 2, that:

“You made it very clear at the September 1 public hearing that you think that the proposed Declaration does not need to exist.”

Attorneys for the PBVC continue to make clear that it is their position that:

“The property that our client intends to donate to the Village (the "Donation Site") includes mangroves, pines and hammocks that are prized for their beneficial wildlife usage and biological diversity. Substantial portions of the Donation Site were designated as environmentally endangered by Miami-Dade County in 2008, a designation supported by Biscayne National Park. In 2009 and again in 2017 the Village expressed continued support for public acquisition of this precious land, contingent upon securing a small portion of the Donation Site for use as a fire station.”

I wholeheartedly agree. And that is why I have worked since this village incorporated to obtain this land to be held by the public, to maintain it (for all the reasons stated in the Declaration of Covenants prepared by Sara Barli Herald, Esq.)

The entire four (4) page letter should be carefully read in its entirety as it provides a recital of the ongoing history of efforts to obtain and preserve this land. I am proud that I have participated from inception and have been a large part of this effort as were so many others, unfortunately none of those who currently sit on the council have any institutional knowledge or prior involvement other than (for some) their work to undermine and frustrate the efforts to pull this property off the development list and protect these 22 acres for our future generations.

A prior mayor, (not me!) once even sponsored legislation to allow development of these 22 acres. This was a proposal to build houses in these very 22 acres, deferring only temporary (until the process ended with the 2014 election).  Factual information can be found online - See the 7/22/2014 article, Palmetto Bay council defers old Burger King property zoning; approves Palmer Trinity’s site-plan changes, by Lola Duffort.  

 Please read the complete 5 page document, the DECLARATION OF COVENANTS, CONDITIONS, AND RESTRICTIONS, prepared by: Sara Barli Herald, Esq., Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod, LLP.

It is my opinion that the follow restrictive covenants are critical! So why do Village Officials appear to be refusing to provide for these very important protections? Number 8 is critical in that it states that this is intended to benefit and run in favor of the residents and property owners of the Village and (best of all) they (we, the people) shall have the right to enforce, all restrictions, conditions and covenants imposed by the provisions of this Declaration. (all emphasis added)

The Covenants protect this property for a 50 year period. It is also a comprehensive, well-reasoned covenant, not merely a “visual barrier”.

My closing plea: It is time to close this chapter in Palmetto Bay politics. I realize that some will lose the very political football that they have enjoyed employing, but it is time for leadership, political maturity and bring an end to these 22 acres – for at least the next 50 years!

The residents of Palmetto Bay need this covenant. And residents should demand an additional requirement that forbids a modification of the covenant unless approved by a super majority of the residents. A zoning development order sounds nice, but can be easily set aside by a 3-2 vote of the village council. A covenant needs to be put in place.

Follow ‘read more’ to view items with more specificity. I have set out the main covenants. I remain insistent that you read the entire 5 page document.

Palmetto Bay Mayor and Council set to raise property taxes and other fees. Second and final budget hearing set for Wednesday, September 23

Remember Pinecrest - also hit hard by COVID. They are fully funding their security and are still set to actually lower the property tax rate for the Pinecrest residents and businesses. See:  September 9, 2020, Good news continues to flow from Pinecrest. Government spending kept in check results in dividends to residents - as one member of the Pinecrest Council opined: "We lowered your (Pinecrest) property taxes this year, With ample reserves and a fully-funded police department, lowering your taxes was the right choice."

Now contrast that with Palmetto Bay. 

$6,673,288 in property tax revenue is not enough for the tax and spend Mayor and Council who want an increase their take from property owners to $7,151,021.

A hike in stormwater fees (excuse is that 'it is not that much') and an actual increase in the Property tax mileage rate. Palmetto Bay levied a property tax for the current budget year that resulted in $6,673,288. Palmetto Bay officials cannot live off that same number for 2020-21. The new proposed property tax increase to 2.235 will result in the collection of $7,151,021 in taxes from area property tax payers. 

Remember when the Council stopped the stormwater tax increase proposed back in December 2019? [See: December 9, 2019, Finally “Not Today!” Palmetto Bay’s tax bleed on hold - after raising and even creating new taxes in 2019 - 3 out of 5 Palmetto Bay Council members say "enough is enough" (for now)].  Well, that was a mid-year publicity show. Three out of five voted against it in December 2019 (David Singer, Patrick Fiore and the Vice Mayor voted no at that time), but the increase was merely delayed. The Stormwater increase is back in 2020 to be assessed in fiscal year 2020-2021, tucked neatly into a comprehensive budget, out of sight and out of mind of far too many residents.

They seem to vote "NO" on tax increases merely for show when people are watching, but "YES" to these same tax increases at a later date, when they think you're not watching.

Other local municipalities: 

I reviewed the advertisement for the budget proceedings for tax year 20-21 for the Village of Key Biscayne. It notes, in conspicuous type that:


Now that is some serious fiscal discipline! And it shows it can be done. 

Back to Palmetto Bay, where the Mayor and council are preparing to 'make it rain' with our tax dollars, for their pet projects. What you can do, how you can participate:

Public comments forum (Option 1): Prior to the meeting, the public can submit a web form available at this web address: Form submissions received prior to the meeting will be read before the item is heard. Form submissions received after 7:00 p.m. will be read at the end of the Village Council’s Agenda. 

Public comments forum (Option 2): Public attendees wishing to provide real-time, audible public comments during the meeting may do so using GoToWebinar’s desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone app. Once registered, attendees will receive GTW session information and call-in telephone numbers for those wishing to use a telephone. Telephone attendees may not participate in public comment as the system has no way to mute or unmute. Attendees wishing to speak during public comment time must use the GoToWebinar application on their desktop, laptop, or smart device. Attendees may not use a webcam whatsoever. In lieu if no availability to participate through the webinar, please submit your public comment using the web form as described above. 

Please register to attend the session as follows: 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. 

All persons are invited to speak at this meeting, or to be represented by an agent, or to express their views in writing addressed to the Village Council c/o of the Village Clerk, 9705 E. Hibiscus Street, Palmetto Bay, FL 33157 and/or via email: Inquiries may be directed to the Clerk at (305) 259-1234. The above items may be continued at this meeting and, under such circumstances, additional legal notice would not be provided. Any person may contact the Village Clerk for information as to the status of this item as a result of the meeting. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, persons needing special accommodation (or hearing impaired) to participate in this proceeding or to review any documents relative thereto should contact the Village for assistance at (305) 259-1234 no later than four (4) days prior to the proceedings. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

POD - wind/rain event expected for Palmetto Bay as South Florida remains under tropical storm watch - Tropical Depression 19

Photos taken at the Palmetto Bay neighborhood branch library. TD 19 is moving through the area today, changing plans for many. A FOSDU sent me these photos of light damage (A small tree toppled into the fence) at the Library on Old Cutler Road. 

RESTORE, DON'T DESTROY THE TREE.  Reports are that the ground around the roots gave way; that the tree should be capable of being placed upright. Let's hope that is what happens rather than simply chopping up and disposing of this very nice tree.

POWER REPORT: We had a brief power outage during the night. Otherwise it appears to be a really wet dreary day.

It is going to be a blustery day!

Your friend and neighbor,

Eugene Flinn

Friday, September 11, 2020

LUXCOM. Palmetto Bay has ceded the high ground and some officials have begun resorting to mischaracterization of the ongoing process. Next in the series.

The after event spin is consistent with past behavior of the this current mayor and council: the mischaracterizing, backpedaling, history revision and finger pointing has begun.  This is not leadership. 

I am bothered by by what occurred at the Special Council meeting that abruptly terminated on Wednesday evening (9/9/2020). The more I think about it - it is clear that something went terribly awry internally with the village council. This was not how the Palmetto Bay legal team intended the meeting / negotiations to go. This was to be a productive meeting set up through many months of preparation and negotiation to allow the Mayor and Council to move the negotiations forward from a position of strength from which the legal team could try to close a deal that would have been much more palatable to the Village residents. A result that Palmetto Bay could shape, rather than be shaped by the Courts. Instead the mayor and one council member demonstrated a lack of understanding of why they were there and got lost. Other members of the council tried to mitigate the damage but in the end tried to close the proceedings before more and irreversible damage was done. But it was apparently too late.

The first revision or mischaracterization of history - that it was a single member of the village council who pushed for 147 units at this Wednesday, September 9, 2020, Special Council Meeting. This is contrary to the record. The 147 number was reached and proposed long before the 9/9/2020 meeting:

147 - FACT -  the 147 units were previously offered up by the Village Council. 147 units was a number reached through the consensus of the council. 

A generally accepted meaning of consensus is that consensus means to reach agreement among those involved. 

The issue remaining, solely as to the number of units, for the village council was to either hold at 147 for the purposes of the ongoing negotiations or barter the 177 number proposed by LUXCOM as bargaining chips against all the other requests they propose.

We will never get to see what could have been accomplished as 3 of the 5 members of the Village Council (the majority) were unable to right the fast sinking ship and instead voted to close a process that they appeared to believe was not moving forward in a productive manner. Perhaps there could have been a reboot and a reconvene for more productive talks.  Unfortunately the damage was done, as I described in my PRIOR RELATED post from Thursday, September 10, 2020: Failed negotiations lead to the probability of yet another lawsuit filed against Palmetto Bay. Next in a series.

And finally, since I am posting quotes from online dictionaries: 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Failed negotiations lead to the probability of yet another lawsuit filed against Palmetto Bay. Next in a series.

 Here we go again. More litigation. 

The answer was known to the mayor and council prior to 10:00 AM today (Thursday, 9/10/2020), but there was no communication to us, the villager residents, until after I posted my 3:00 PM blog update. To the best of my knowledge, this information was not made public until an email was released at 5:17 PM.

The full story is as follows (CLICK HERE to view the complete LUXCOM communication):

LUXCOM attorneys advised Palmetto Bay's add-on, outside counsel, that it is their opinion "... that the Village did not negotiate in good faith at the Mediation regarding the number of units. "As mediation is confidential, (The attorney)... is unable to say more." (and it is their opinion, and we, the residents, are not privy to significant facts).

The email may at one time been considered a privileged communication, but it was released and is now public record.

The results of the failed meeting last night are as follows (and again, as detailed in the e-mail):

  • LUXCOM terminates the mediation process.
  • The Village was instructed to respond to the Bert J Harris demand no later than Friday, September 18 - no further extensions will be granted.
  • A formal Bert J Harris action "(and any other appropriate causes of action will be filed shortly thereafter.
  • "Further more, all pending litigation and the Petition for Writ will now be moved forward expeditiously."
IMPACT: This matter moves on to the courts. More angst, much more cost and expense and much less control over the result. There will be a significant budget impact on several fronts, including the actual need to properly adjust (uplift) the litigation budget as well as possible impact to the Palmetto Bay Bond rating - which may adversely impact the cost to taxpayers of any village debt. 

I did note that the meeting of Wednesday, September 9, 2020, was very disappointing. There appeared to be little knowledge as to the substance or the seriousness of the issues surrounding LUXCOM from the Mayor or most of the other members of the Village Council. The LUXCOM proposal was circulated to the Village Council sometime in early to mid August, yet impressions were that some members of the council had not met with or asked questions of Village attorneys until 9/9. This after months of alleged negotiations (see prior posts on this blog regarding LUXCOM). 

This has certainly dragged on. The original deadline date was Thursday, June 11, 2020. As stated, it appears that the final deadline date is now Friday, September 18, 2020.


January 22, 2020, LUXCOM and the Bert J Harris claim against Palmetto Bay: Is the planning letter of November 30, 2018, a "$21 million dollar letter"? Is this a $21 million dollar letter? Luxcom appears to believe so.

January 17, 2020, A medium length primer on Bert J. Harris Act claims. What we can expect (including a timeline). Link to Bert J Harris Act provided.

February 9, 2020, Property analysis - the tool box - trend of development report prepared by the firm of Calvin, Giordano & Associates, Information relevant to the Luxcom Bert J Harris Act claim (part of a series).

January 8, 2020, Miami Today (online version) Palmetto Bay hospital zoning battle in court - Written by Gabriel Poblete on January 7, 2020

There are more than 30 blog articles relating to LUXCOM - CLICK HERE

Thoughts from the Special Council meeting of Wednesday, September 10, 2020. Part of a series. Remember the number 30

Wednesday, September 9, 2020, was a very disappointing night. My initial concern is whether  the Palmetto Bay Village Council negotiating in good faith. There appeared to be little knowledge as to the substance or the seriousness of the issues surrounding LUXCOM from the Mayor or most of the other members of the Village Council. The LUXCOM proposal was circulated to the Village Council sometime in early to mid August, yet impressions were that some members of the council had not met with or asked questions of Village attorneys until 9/9. This after months of alleged negotiations (see prior posts on this blog regarding LUXCOM). It appears that was one of the attorneys who in reality called the meeting so they could actually for once get some uniform guidance from the Village council. The meeting went so poorly that after almost three hours 3 of the 4 council members voted to adjourn the meeting over the mayor’s objection (3-2 vote). The issue appears to be will this council take charge of this situation by making a decision or are they in reality just playing political games, dragging things out to try the patience of the LUXCOM lawyers, forcing LUXCOM to file suit and leave the decisions to the courts. This will provide the mayor and council with the next eventual scapegoat (the courts) for what goes wrong under their watch.

Here is a small bite from that meeting – unit numbers:

147:   Units the village council has offered LUXCOM through “consensus of the Council”.
177:   Units sought by LUXCOM
  30:  The number of units that separate the council consensus from LUXCOM 
  71:   The number that equals one unit an acre would be 71.

Has the current mayor, or have any member of the Village Council, disclosed or explained how there is a “consensus of the Council” offer of 147 came about without a public hearing? Or did I miss that disclosure?

For the record: 

177 units is 2.5 units an acre
147 units is 2.05 units an acre.
  71 units would be the promised 1 unit an acre

Note that the meeting of 9/9/202 was the 37th meeting of the village council (through 3 quarters of this calendar year). It was the 14th special council meeting since January 1, 2020, or the 16th special council meetings if you include the special budget hearings held in May, 2020. That is a lot of meetings. What is being accomplished, year to date?

And final note - there is not a single resolution or minutes posted for any of these meetings for the public to view. See the screen shot of the Village of Palmetto Bay's official Agenda Center (posted to the right). This screen shot was captured and is therefore accurate as of 2:30 PM on 9/10/2020.

The Mayor and council claim that this is where a member of the public can go to "View current agendas and minutes for all boards and commissions. Previous years' agendas and minutes can be found in the Document Center. Adobe Reader may be required to view some" What they don't tell you is you can read what they fail to post regardless of whether or not you have Adobe Reader. A minor fact that is left out. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Good news continues to flow from Pinecrest. Government spending kept in check results in dividends to residents

Good governments manage their spending. Deficit spending is the first sign that the elected officials are not watching out for the taxpayers. Reserves are just that: reserves, rainy day funds that should be borrowed, then put back within a reasonable time.  "If you use a commodity or resource carefully and without extravagance you will never be in need."

Pinecrest managed its spending and the services during the COVID-19 storm. The result? A dividend to the taxpayers in the form of reduced property tax rate. This is appropriate. The same should be true in Palmetto Bay, especially as crimes dropped due in part to people working form home, where they kept an eye on their property, and a significant reduction in park expenses due to a curtailing of activities. 

Government officials are measured by how they manage issues. Did the Elected Officials buckle down and manage or did they fail to react, adjust and rely upon casting blame on others and put out propaganda and distraction to cover their mistakes?

See my prior related post of September 2, 2020, Good News report from Pinecrest. No tax rate increase, no cuts in services, no need to raid reserves.

This is wonderful news in these COVID times. Pinecrest managed COVID-19 without any adverse financial impact on their residents. Pinecrest is set up for reimbursement from FEMA. No deficits were incurred.

Success is where preparation meets opportunity. COVID-19 reached everyone. Those where were prepared, dealt with it and came out unscathed. Those who failed resort to playing victim, blaming others and point fingers.

There has been no silly spending in Pinecrest. Revenues have been spent on providing Pinecrest government services. A true case a "waste not, want not."

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

LUXCOM: Palmetto Bay's First MEGA development may be coming to Palmetto Bay. Unless you participate and say no, "not today!"

My fellow residents of Palmetto Bay – your attendance and participation is needed more than ever at the special council meeting of Wednesday, September 9, 2020. You must participate and object. You must place a backbone into our present mayor and council to stop this MEGA DEVELOPMENT.

I am shocked that this proposed agreement represents the positions of the parties after months of behind the scenes negotiations. Including actual negotiations through face to face meetings throughout 2020. This certainly is not the start. I am shocked that this proposal is even being allowed to come before the council in its present form. You really need to read the proposal in detail. This is not the promised development restriction of 1 unit an acre (which I believe would be 73 units). The proposal is not for 73 units, it is not for 145 that I alleged on June 4, 2020. This is a true MEGA DEVELOPMENT for 177 units – plus. Are you ready for what constitutes the pluses? Here is the long list of pluses to be shoehorned into these 73 acres: 

“guardhouse, guard gate, clubhouse and amenity center, boat house, private parks, tot lots, fishing piers, Jacuzzi, bocce court, gazebos, pergolas, fountains, basketball and volleyball courts, gym, manager’s office, catering kitchen, meeting room, fuel dock, repair/service facilities, swimming pools, swimming pool decks, swimming pools at grade, sundry shop, café, marina, dock master’s office, boat slips, launch and boat service, marina parking and amenity parking as well as other accessory uses”

That’s right “…well as other accessory uses” let’s not risk inadvertently excluding anything!

The agend fails to properly set the tone for this meeting. It reads as follows:


I respectfully suggest that this agenda description be re titled to reflect what should happen:


For you GOT fans, To quote Arya: "Not today!" In fact, "Not today, not tomorrow and not in the foreseeable future!"

There are only two possible reasons for this MEGA DEVELOPMENT coming before the council as proposed: 

1. The mayor and council want to get everyone info a frenzy and look good by slamming the door and going to court to defend a Bert J Harris claim (which I preferred - in fact I ask that they do!).
2. The mayor and council will allow 145 to 177 units, but deny a significant portion of the remaining proposed scope [including, but not limited to the fuel marina, live aboards (increasing residential above the current proposed 177 units) , the MEGA amenities and any commercial that would expand this proposed development above a simply residential community]. (political gamesmanship of saying ‘it could have been worse) 

Everyone should be pushing for the nuclear option, #3 - DENY and defend Palmetto Bay in court. Hold an actual, properly noticed zoning hearing and determine reasonable developmental rights for this property.

But don’t say I didn’t warn you. This Luxcom matter is serious and I believe it has been treated as a political football, not a serious land development issue. CLICK HERE to read the full agenda and the proposed agreement.

The Project Plan consists of a residential community of up to 177 residential dwelling units and accessory uses as allowed within the PAD zoning district, including, but not limited to, an entry feature, guardhouse, guard gate, clubhouse and amenity center, boat house, private parks, tot lots, fishing piers, Jacuzzi, bocce court, gazebos, pergolas, fountains, basketball and volleyball courts, gym, manager’s office, catering kitchen, meeting room, fuel dock, repair/service facilities, swimming pools, swimming pool decks, swimming pools at grade, sundry shop, café, marina, dock master’s office, boat slips, launch and boat service, marina parking and amenity parking as well as other accessory uses as may be allowed in the PAD zoning district. The density and regulations governing the development of the Property, shall be as follows:

The administrative approval process by the Village shall not prohibit the development of the Project so long as the development is in substantial compliance with the Project Plan. The minimum lot sizes for the development will be 5,000 square foot lots and the setbacks listed above are recognized as the minimum setbacks for the Project Plan. The setbacks provided above are the setbacks requirements as measured to the structure of the homes and do not include additional and separate structures or terraces. To the extent that additional structures are provided on the lots, such as amenities for the residential homes, including gazebos, pergolas, swimming pools, swimming pool decks, swimming pools at grade, summer kitchens and other structures, the minimum rear setback will be 2 feet 5 inches for such structures. So long as the plan for development complies with Section 4 of this Agreement, the Developer shall be entitled to pull building permits.

Negotiations have been ongoing. Now there is a special council meeting set for Wednesday, September 9, 2020, in order to


I posted my legal & personal opinions on Thursday, June 4, 2020, noting at that time that the Village of Palmetto Bay was alleged to have made the following offers to LUXCOM (noting then that it there was nothing in writing that was made to available to the public):

· 145 units (which is significantly more than the 1 unit per acre limitation imposed by Palmetto Bay - promised to residents by this mayor and council)
· Revert the zoning back to "institutional" but specifically excluding a use for a hospital, or
· Participate in binding arbitration.

MY UNSOLICTED LEGAL PERSONAL OPINION? This needs to go to a full zoning hearing where the public can fully participate in evidence and the council needs to render a proper zoning decision – get back to the ‘promised ONE UNIT an Acre’!

The bottom line: LUXCOM has few true expectations of unit rights. Why?
· They purchased a property known to be contaminated. A known health risk not just to the site, but to surrounding areas.
· Due to the contamination, there is a valid argument for ZERO units per acre.
· The majority of the site had only been used for power plant production, not residential (and is also the reason for the contamination).
· The area to the north is in a differing jurisdiction, Coral Gables - which has its own zoning / land use codes, rules & regulations; what I considered to be a 'hard wall' against liberally applying any trend of development into Palmetto Bay.
· The area and few houses (caretaker houses) were zoned 5 unit and 1 unit per acre in the applicable close proximity. This would support reasonable zoning decisions of between 15 - 65 units on this entire property.
· Hearings were held on the legislation establishing the 1 unit per acre designation.
· (There are many more reasons not included here)

LUXCOM is significant. This may be the first time ever that a Palmetto Bay mayor and council upzone any property, increasing density. This property has important distinctions from the Palmetto Bay Village Center (PBVC). First of all, back in the 1980s, the PBVC won a court-order right (against Miami-Dade) to over 1,400 residential units on the 80 acres long before Palmetto Bay residents ever though of becoming a municipality. Palmetto Bay officials have worked hard to whittle down the number of units over time. LUXCOM is an attempt to actually INCREASE the number of units.

The tool box:

January 22, 2020, LUXCOM and the Bert J Harris claim against Palmetto Bay: Is the planning letter of November 30, 2018, a "$21 million dollar letter"? Is this a $21 million dollar letter? Luxcom appears to believe so.

January 17, 2020, A medium length primer on Bert J. Harris Act claims. What we can expect (including a timeline). Link to Bert J Harris Act provided.

February 9, 2020, Property analysis - the tool box - trend of development report prepared by the firm of Calvin, Giordano & Associates, Information relevant to the Luxcom Bert J Harris Act claim (part of a series).

January 8, 2020, Miami Today (online version) Palmetto Bay hospital zoning battle in court - Written by Gabriel Poblete on January 7, 2020

There are more than 30 prior blog articles relating to LUXCOM - CLICK HERE

Monday, September 7, 2020

This holiday belongs to those who put in the labor to make America Great!

Happy Labor Day! Take the day off.

I hope everyone who works hard to make America great is enjoying a happy and safe Labor Day weekend.  Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.

Read more about Labor Day on History.Com - Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers, and Labor Day 2018 occurs on Monday, September 3 (it’s traditionally observed on the first Monday in September). It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, and is celebrated with parties, parades and athletic events. (READ MORE)
Enjoy your special day

Eugene Flinn