Carrollton School’s plan to build a Catholic elementary school for boys on the historic Villa Woodbine property was again delayed by Miami commissioners, who questioned whether the project would be destructive to the environment and to the quality of life of Coconut Grove and have postponed any decision until September 10.
After three hours of public commentary Thursday morning strongly opposed to the draft and three more hours of presentations and discussions late Thursday evening, four commissioners were faced with a vote at 1:30 am Friday.
The question was whether to dismiss or grant Carrollton’s appeal against the Historical and Environmental Council’s December rejection of the school’s proposal to build 55,000 square feet of classrooms, offices, an auditorium , a swimming pool, a dormitory, a gatehouse and covered walkways on the wooded land 3.7 acre site located at the top of Grove’s Silver Bluff at 2167 South Bayshore Drive.
Commissioner Joe Carollo recused himself because he owns a property nearby. Commissioner Ken Russell was unable to get a second on his motion to dismiss the appeal. Commissioner Alex de la Portilla was unable to get a second on his request to uphold the appeal. Declaring a stalemate, they postponed a decision.
Carrollton’s attorney, Ryan Bailine, pleaded for a vote.
“It will not happen,” said Diaz de la Portilla. âYou need situational awareness. You go around in circles. You have a lot of work to do. The best you can do is postpone to fight another day. “
The next time they meet, Carrollton will have to come up with a better plan that more neighbors will support, Commissioner Manolo Reyes said.
âThe only person I haven’t met is the Pope,â Reyes said, encouraging Bailine to seek the same level of community contribution that Reyes and his fellow commissioners have received.
Diaz de la Portilla said he wanted to give Carrollton “another chance” to make changes and come up with a less controversial plan because “it’s a condition of Miami’s Cuban culture to go to Belen. or Columbus or Lourdes or Carrollton, and I went to Belen and I dated girls from Lourdes and Carrollton.
Commissioners refused to grant intervenor status to the neighbors of the Woodbine property, then allowed Carrollton to present his landscape and restoration plan for the 90-year-old villa designed by Walter De Garmo, which was the headquarters from Bill Hansen’s catering business and a popular site for weddings and private events.
The city’s preservation council has slammed Carrollton’s plans to build a cliff-top pool and deck and remove more than 100 trees. Russell focused on preserving the cliff and the large specimens and fruit trees.
“Is this the right project for this property if you have to remove so many trees?” We will not be able to recreate what is lost in our lifetime, âsaid Russell. âA mango tree 42 inches in diameter is being removed to make a parking lot. We are removing 25 mango trees because children could be allergic? I didn’t know this was a problem. There are two 50 foot tamarind trees in the footprint of the building. It concerns the plan that was not built around them.
Carrollton bought the property for $ 8.375 million in December. Since then, a local organization called Bayshore In The Grove has rallied opposition to the school, and Grove residents have complained that it would result in more traffic on Tigertail Avenue and South Bayshore Drive, decimate the property’s canopy and would make flooding problems worse.
âIt doesn’t belong here,â said Bill Harvey, a Grove resident since 1991. âIt’s not the right place to set up a school. “
Neighbor Adrienne Peters echoed, âI am totally against the expansion of private schools in Coconut Grove. It’s not fair that all of these rich people are driving their kids here and creating more traffic disruption.
Carrollton retorts that he would be the best possible steward of Villa Woodbine, given his track record of preserving the more than 100-year-old El Jardin estate on his girls’ campus by the Bay on Main. Highway.
This story was originally published July 25, 2020 6:00 a.m.