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BHA News, Vol. XI, No. 1 Spring 2001

Progress and Patience All the adages about achieving progress and the necessary patience come to mind when reporting about developments in the Brickell community over the past 11 years. "It's an uphill battle." "Rome wasn't built in a day." "You can't fight City Hall." (Some are more pessimistic than others.)

Traffic congestion, speeding, beautification, crime and safety, zoning enforcement and a handful of other topics remain the issues of ongoing concern to Brickell residents.

These were the subjects of interest when the BHA issued its first residents' survey years ago, and the same subjects continue to surface on the BHA's Web-based version of the "Residents Speak Out (www.brickellhomeowners.com/news) which can be answered anytime.

This issue of BHA News, our 31st edition, contains updates on most of these hot topics which will undoubtedly continue to simmer in the months and years ahead. If you'd like to hear about something else, please drop us a note or email! From the Editor, Natalie Brown

County Commissioner Morales Hosts Town Hall Meeting March 27
One of the Miami-Dade County Commissioners representing Brickell in District 7, Commissioner Jimmy Morales, invites all residents to tune into a televised electronic Town Hall meeting Tuesday, March 27, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

This Town Hall Meeting format will be televised on Miami-Dade Television, the channel number for which varies according to your cable system. Residents are urged to email their questions or comments to moralestownhall@co.m iami-dade.fl.us, or call (305) 375-5298.

President's Column: By T. Sinclair (Tory) Jacobs
Our "Alice-in-Wonderland" City Commission
In retrospect, the Miami City Commission's ruling on January 25, 2001 ­ the 242nd anniversary of Scotland's renowned poet Robert Burns' birth ­ seems disappointingly fitting.

The Miami City Commission voted 3-to-2 to uphold the City's Acting Zoning Administrator's ruling about the clause in City Commission Resolution 97-73, enacted January 23, 1997, for the 1900 Brickell Avenue property: The Health Clinic (Medical Office) shall be used only for consultation relating to plastic surgery; no medical or surgical procedures of any kind shall be performed anywhere on the property.
Apparently the above does not mean that no medical procedures of any kind shall be performed anywhere on the property.

The Zoning Administrator's ruling (supported by the Commission's 3-to-2 vote) is that the Resolution only prohibits surgical procedures even though it says "medical or surgical procedures."

You may well ask how precise English language can be interpreted completely opposite to its customary reading. You may need to go through the Looking Glass to the upside-down world of Lewis Carroll for the answer: "When I use a word" Humpty-Dumpty said, "it means just what I choose it to mean ­ neither more nor less."

It is an awesome power to be able to create your own meaning from unambiguous language. Think about it. . .isn't this an egregious threat to our cherished rule of law?

Surely, the Commission may vote to change its Resolutions. . .but to rule it doesn't mean what it clearly says! What kind of topsy-turvy world do we have at the foot of Pan American Drive? Perhaps a world more familiar to denizens of Alice's Garden.

To quote the bard, Robert Burns:
"It's hardly in a body's pow'r,
To keep, at times, frae being sour."

Airplane Noise Abatement: East Flow Test Underway During Night Hours
An issue that requires heroic patience on the part of homeowners is the matter of airplane noise abatement. BHA continues to represent the neighborhood's concerns on the county-wide Noise Abatement Task Force, as well as meet with airport officials and specialists about what can and is being done for relief.

As Brickell residents know all too well, east flow departures from Miami International Airport are the biggest noise problem for the neighborhood.

Currently a test, for which the Federal Aviation Administration's approval was needed, is underway from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. in which east flow traffic is channeled over commercial areas and water rather than residential areas. The six-month test started in December and preliminary results should be known by the end of May 2001. (Have you been awakened less by airplanes at night?)

At the BHA's February Board meeting two Miami Airport officials, Bruce Drum, Assistant Aviation Director/Airside Operations, and Jeffrey Bunting, Noise Abatement Officer, met with the BHA to explain the complexities of noise abatement and potential relief measures.

For the most part, "hush-kitting," the process of quieting an older model plane, has not been very effective for reducing noise in the Stage II aircraft. Replacement with Stage III aircraft is the preferred way to lower the din. American Airlines, Miami's largest carrier, is committed to replacing its entire fleet by 2003; other airlines have said by 2004.

Many have suggested Miami look to the experience of other large cities that have undergone similar difficulties with a fast-growing population and an equally fast-growing airport in the center of it all. BHA Directors are meeting in March with Klaskin, Kushner & Company, an aviation consulting firm that has investigated noise mitigation throughout the country.

In the meantime, airport officials say to keep those complaint calls coming. Overall, the airport receives some 800 to 900 complaints a month. Officials evaluate these calls and watch for trends in who is causing the noise, when and where.

The number for complaints is still (305) 876-plane and Mr. Bunting's email address is: jbunting@miami-airport.com. Or you can send a complaint directly by clicking here.

Brickell Medians: Funds Secured for More Complete Coverage
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced recently that they have identified an additional $35,000 to go toward the Brickell median beautification project.

This funding, combined with $100,000 in funds already earmarked for the project by the City of Miami, will extend the replacement sod and irrigation system to the entirety of each median rather than at just the ends.

The City of Miami is releasing the Request for Proposals (RFP) this month and expects the work of the landscaping contractors to carry out the restoration and beautification project to begin in May. The work, including installing the new irrigation system, sodding and new plantings is to be completed by August 2001.

In the meantime, a BHA committee has been working with Gerald Marston, principal at the landscape design firm for the project, Wallace Roberts and Todd, to study other potential enhancements desired for Brickell Avenue, especially focusing on the pedestrian portions of the avenue. Visible source lighting on sidewalks, such as acorn-style lamps, is one possibility since it is known that not only does lighting make a dramatic statement, it can greatly enhance safety and serve as an effective element in calming traffic.

The last Brickell median replanting project in 1995 failed largely due to a leaky pipe irrigation system that never worked properly and problems with the initial maintenance contracts, critical for successful new plantings.

The BHA is dedicating funds and volunteer hours to investigate additional measures the home-owners may spearhead to make Brickell Avenue a truly grand roadway that announces one of Miami's most elegant neighborhoods.

Brickell Gets Shuttle Service
By Megan Kelly, Brickell Area Association

Residents of Brickell Key and Brickell Bay Drive can look forward to public transportation in east Brickell, which presently lacks service.
Starting April 16th, the Brickell Shuttle will circulate between the Metrorail station in Brickell Village and the new residential, hotel and office buildings of east Brickell and Brickell Key. The Brickell Shuttle, a welcome project of the Miami- Dade Transit Authority, will initially operate from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on a 15-minute route. The fare is a thrifty 25 cents.

While the primary purpose of the Brickell Shuttle is to extend public transportation service to the east where new development is creating significant entry-level employment, Brickell residents can also hop on the shuttle to shop at the Brickell Village Publix or to lunch at one of the Brickell Village cafes.

Shuttle bus service has been long-awaited in the Brickell area and residents are encouraged to "get on board" and support the Brickell Shuttle.

BHA and NET Office Attack Graffiti Battle
The Coral Way NET office and Administrator Tony Wagner are working closely with BHA Secretary Mac Seligman to investigate ways to improve the City of Miami's graffiti eradication efforts.

Mr. Wagner and Mr. Seligman are meeting with representatives of other areas that seem to be able to combat graffiti effectivelykind of a search for "best practices" in handling the problem that seems to come along with the urban turf.

"You don't see graffiti on the Metrorail columns, for instance," Mr. Seligman said, "because they take care of it as soon as it's spotted."
Miami Beach also seems to do a pretty good job, so officials from the Beach were also consulted to find out how they manage to keep it under control. The Beach utilizes community service personnel ­ people assigned community service hours through the court system ­ as an integral part of its graffiti-busting team.

The Metrorail, which falls under the Miami-Dade Transit Authority, has people on staff whose sole job is to take care of graffiti, Mr. Wagner explained.

For the City of Miami, the prospects of emulating these success stories look bleak, with only two graffiti busters for the entire City proper.

It takes someone who is dogged about it, a vigilante of sorts, Mr. Wagner said.

For the BHA, that has been Mac Seligman, who makes the calls to the NET office as soon as he spots the offending scrawl. He'll be working with the City to come up with creative solutions with very limited resources. Thanks, Mac, and keep up the good work!

If you spot graffiti, please report it to the NET office at (305) 859-2701. If north of 15th Road, call (305) 579-6007.

The Latest Scoop
It's the current annoyance in Miami-Dade: pet owners who don't clean up after their pets. Key Biscayne is considering adding a rule to the books requiring "poop scooping." Some areas, like Miami Beach, already have this law, and most people, reportedly, abide by it.

The BHA has been fielding some complaints about the issue in our neighborhood recently, and turned to Miami Police Officer Jeffrey Giordano for some insight. If common courtesy doesn't prevail, isn't there a law about the unsightly and unhealthy matter?

"There is a Miami-Dade County ordinance on the books, and while City of Miami Police could issue citations under this ordinance, it isn't being enforced." Officer Giordano reported.

As clearly stated in official County laws, Article II. Dogs, Section 5.5, entitled "Permitting dogs to defecate, etc. on public or common property:"
It shall be unlawful for a responsible party to permit, either willfully or through failure to exercise due care or control, any such dog to commit any nuisance upon the sidewalk of any public street; or upon the floor of any common hall in any apartment house, tenement house, hotel or other multiple dwelling;' or upon any entranceway, stairway or wall immediately abutting on a public sidewalk, or upon the floor of any theatre, shop, store, office building or other building used in common by the public. 'Nuisance,' for the purpose of this section, shall be defined as defecation and/or urination."

"It would be a 'civil infraction,'" Officer Giordano explained, "with a fine of $50 for the first offense. But, he doesn't foresee City of Miami Police enforcing it in the future," he said.

The Brickell Key Master Association is considering hiring off-duty officers to enforce the "nuisance" ordinance as well as another ordinance that prohibits dogs from being allowed to roam free and not on leashes.

Other communities, instead of focusing on enforcement, have tried to make cleaning up after the dogs easier with scooper dispensers and waste receptacles to facilitate the process.

What do you think is right for the Brickell neighborhood? Email or mail your comments to the BHA.

BHA Continues Objections to Proposed High-Density Project
Brickell Homeowners Association has adopted a resolution opposing the project under review for the Brickell Bay Village Property located between Bristol Tower and Atlantis Condominiums in the 2000-2100 blocks of Brickell Avenue.

The project as designed imposes an extreme traffic burden on an already overtaxed roadway system, the impact of which will be to reduce the quality of life of the residents in the area, create additional traffic jams during morning and afternoon rush hours and cause hazardous conditions to arise due to vehicles entering and leaving the project. In the absence of a traffic control device, the only route for traffic exiting the property will be northbound, and for those heading south, a traffic-stopping U-turn.

The project as conceived with 359 rental residential units and 520 parking spaces with a maximum of two curb cuts within a 200-foot frontage will create a hazardous condition for those residents needing to go south, who will be forced to first head north, and then make a U-turn to reverse their direction.

As residents in rental units tend to be in residence all year round, the impact or intensity of use will be greater than that of a condominium of the same density, where the owners in residence at any one time are generally fewer than one finds in a rental property.

The design of the building and its density on only 200 feet of frontage creates a negative impact on the entire Brickell Corridor. It is the only building on Brickell where so many units will have been squeezed into only 200 feet of frontage. The number of residents in such a building, their vehicles and the traffic created, impose a significantly greater burden (intensity of use) than any other building in the area.

The resulting negative impact on the quality of life for the residents of the area will negatively impact the City of Miami from an economic standpoint. Brickell Avenue right now offers the City its highest ad valorem tax base. A building such as this, which aggressively uses the property for a greater density and impact than others in the neighborhood, will negatively impact property values in the area due to a decline in the quality of life caused by the traffic degradation, crowding and congestion. These are key elements for causing a drop in demand for properties in the area, and consequently lowering property values.

For all of the foregoing reasons, the members of the Board of Directors of the Brickell Avenue Homeowners Association have resolved to oppose the pending application for approval of a Major Use Special Permit, and urges all Departments of the City of Miami and the Miami City Commission to reject the application.

Free Gate House Rejected by 25th Road Condos
Developers of The Metropolitan at 25th Road and Brickell Avenue inherited the commitment engineered by the Brickell Homeowners Association to build a gate house at the entrance to 25th Road from Brickell Avenue.

The Metropolitan developers support the gate house/guard house concept because they know it would enhance the perceived value of Metropolitan's condo units. And the developers agreed to foot the bill of $50,000 to cover gate house construction costs.

Guarded Communities Enjoy Increased Values
Noted Property Appraiser Alice West-Price, MAI, commented, "Many potential condo buyers would highly value a property within a gated community. There is no doubt that living in a gated community is perceived as more prestigious and definitely more secure, thus increasing property values."

Gated Community Improves Security
Lt. Hector Mirabile of the Miami Police Department said "A gated community by its inherent nature provides a greater level of security through deterrence."

Officer Jeffrey Giordano, assigned to the Brickell Neighborhood, added, "Any obstacle put in place will lessen the chances of an intruder and further eliminates the opportunity. A criminal usually looks for the fast opportunity without further deterrence."

Parking Affected
Tory Jacobs, longtime 25th Road resident, noted, "I have observed considerable exogenous parking in this block, especially by people headed for Key Biscayne, bikers, joggers, ride-sharers, even people headed on downtown. A guard gate would discourage this."

Operation of guard gates in Miami-Dade County are usually set up as Special Taxing Districts with costs added annually to ad valorem tax assessments. There are five condominium associations including The Metropolitan on 25th Road east of Brickell.

The operating cost, including guards, allocated by unit would be around $5 per month, per eight-hour shift, per condo unit.

To set up a Special Taxing District, first the majority of the condo association boards must vote in favor, then the individual owners are polled. Besides The Metropolitan's developers, only the Brickell 25 Condo Association voted in favor of the gate house. The other three condo associations on the block voted against it. Now, if the neighbors ever opt for the protection and value-enhancement created by a guard house, they will have to fund it themselves.

A neighbor, Lourdes Lopez, whose move from a gated community to 25th Road was precipitated by her recent marriage, said "There is such a special feeling of peace and security when you drive through the guard gate. It is a sense of belonging to a caring community. The gate seems to build neighborhood closeness."

Active Autumn Anticipated by PAC
The Brickell Neighborhood PAC is gearing up for the hotly contested City of Miami mayoral election this coming fall. Mayor Joe Carollo, former mayors Xavier Suarez and Maurice Ferre are among the declared candidates running for mayor.

Gloria Konsler of One Tequesta Point was recently named PAC Treasurer, taking over the office from Mel Frankel, BHA Director and founding PAC member.

Column: Miami's Newest Church Invites People To "Come as you areand bring a friend!"
By Michael T. Girolimon

The Brickell area has a new church-Brickell Church!

Brickell Church burst onto Miami's religious scene this past summer. Its arrival was featured in a front-page article in the Miami Herald last July.

Brickell Church emerged out of the venerable First Presbyterian Church of Miami, where I was the pastor from May 1997 to July 2000. Differences in worship and cultural styles between the long-time members and the newer members proved to be irreconcilable. So, in early July, I left the Presbyterian Church and, along with the staff, leaders, and overwhelming majority of the congregation, formed Brickell Church.

How is Brickell Church different from other churches? It's
Casual! Our motto is: "Come as you areand bring a friend!" Clothing style is a non-issue. Most people in South Florida prefer to dress down. More substantively, it is an invitation to approach God as is. And we invite people to bring their family and friends because, when exploring spiritual matters, more is always better.

Contemporary! In the service, the music is lively, up-beat, and exciting. Instruments include synthesizer and guitars. Songs are catchy choruses. The pacing is swift, no dead-time. Multimedia is used for songs and the message.

Christ-centered! Brickell Church is clearly within the historic Christian faith, but as an independent congregation does not align itself with any tradition. Former Protestants, Catholics, pentecostal-charismatics and others now call Brickell Church home. Denominationalism in America is dead; meeting felt needs is alive and well.

Multi-cultural! Brickell Church celebrates the racial-ethnic diversity of metro Miami. African-Americans, Anglos, Brazilians, Cubans and a wide variety of Hispanics, Europeans, Haitians, Jamaicans, and many others attend. All people are created in God's image.

Relevant! The average American church tends to answer questions that people aren't asking and use language that people don't understand. At Brickell Church, the messages are practical, relevant, and down-to-earth. A recent series, "High-Maintenance Relationships," addressed how to get along with difficult people, something with which everyone struggles.

Friendly! A surprisingly common complaint about church in general is that it is unfriendly. Love draws people like a magnet. People are looking for meaningful relationships that enrich and enliven their lives. Brickell Church provides that, especially for young families and single professionals, the segments of the population most overlooked by traditional congregations.

It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people.

Who might consider Brickell Church? It's for those who've given up on traditional church or been burned by organized religion. At Brickell Church, we joke: "If you're turned off by organized religion, you'll love us. We're dis-organized religion!" We create a safe place for people to hear a dangerous message about God's love. Why is that message dangerous? Because it transforms lives. That's what Brickell Church is about: lives transformed by God's amazing love.

Mrs. Avis Bembry and the staff at Coconut Grove Elementary school have graciously allowed us to use their facility. We meet at 11 a.m. Sundays in the 325-seat, air-conditioned auditorium, located near the corner of Grand Avenue and Matilda Street, a short walk from CocoWalk! Free parking provided. Home groups meet during the week.

For further information, check out the website, www.brickellchurch.org, send an email to brickellchurch@yahoo.com or call (305) 510-9592. Remember: "Come as you areand bring a friend!"

Changes at Brickell Publix
The pharmacy at the Brickell Village Publix has been closed to allow for the addition of two express checkout lanes, Manager A.B. Sanchez reported to the BHA. Prescriptions on file will be transferred to the Publix on 27th Avenue, just east of Coral Way.

South Miami Avenue Homeowners Form Association
The BHA welcomes a new neighboring homeowners' group, the South Miami Avenue Homeowners Association, newly formed to address issues of common concern to the neighbors on this historic roadway just one block west of Brickell. The BHA anticipates opportunities to work collaboratively with the group.

 

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