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WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU NOW WANT TO PUT A RESTAURANT ON A PIECE OF PROPERTY YOU CLAIMED YOU WANTED TO MAKE A PART OF OPTIMIST PARK?
MIAMI SHORES #1 - MARCH 4, 2018
At next week's Villlage Council meeting the agenda includes the following item:
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION REGARDING THE HIRING OF A REAL ETATATE BROKER TO MARKET THE PROPERTY LOCATED AT 9301 NE 2ns AVENUE FOR RESTAURANT USE (SPONSORED BY: MACDAM GLINN).
This item caused concern among some residents in the Village when it was first revealed by a resident on the Miami Shores Village Community Facebook page, and in order to sort this all out, I have undertaken to get as much information as possible for your perusal before the meeting.
Before we get to that though, I am compelled to once again point out that this item, among any other number of questionable decisions made by the Village Council are in large part the result of few residents paying attention to what goes on at Council meetings, and even fewer, when provided an opportunity to speak, or question the actions of the Council, choose to sit on their hands, with their mouths shut.
THE SEQUENCE OF MEETINGS WHERE THIS ITEM WAS DISCUSSED
On June 7, 2016, then Councilman MacAdam Glinn sponsored a discussion item about a piece of property that was, BELIEVED TO BE IN FORECLOSURE ADJACENT TO OPTIMIST PARK: (HERE is the link to the complete video and agenda of that meeting.)
Here is that portion of the Council meeting. ( I cannot stress enough that in order to get a full understanding for what actually happened to have to look at all the the three videos. DO NOT JUST RELY ON MY DESCRIPTION OF WHAT I SAW IN THE VIDEOS.)
At this meeting Glinn describes his interest solely on the basis that this property sits adjacent to the existing Optimist Park, and that, "I think we have a very unique opportunity to purchase at a very reasonable price a property that is immediately adjacent to one of our parks, and I think we would be remiss if not to look into the possibility of purchasing this."
The other significant issue discussed was the possible price $800,000, a question about how to finance the purchase, and the instructions to present that information to the Commission at the next meeting.
You should also note that there is a question of whether this discussion should be opened for public comment. It was, and no one spoke.
The next Council meeting came and went without any information being discussed in public regarding the direction given to Village Manager Tom Benton and Village Attorney Richard Sarafan, although by April 4, 2017, when the issue came up again as a Discussion Item, it was evident that considerable information had to have been exchanged and decisions made, but then, like the purchase of the Catholic Charities building it seems that neither Benton or Sarafan felt any need to divulge any of that information to the public until it suited whatever agenda they had by then settled on.
As before, the item was introduced as a Discussion Item, only this time by Village Attorney Richard Sarafan, who started out by revealing that since the initial meeting in June of 2016, money had been put on deposit to purchase the building, and then he referenced a memo that he has sent to the members of the Council.
The memo is 2 1/8 pages long, and for whatever reason I cannot post the while memo here in a way that you can read it clearly. Therefore, I have chosen to post the relevant part of the memo where Sarafan describes how the Village was unable to purchase the house directly because a 3rd party had succeeded in placing a bid on the house, and what he did to persuade the guy to sell.
That 3rd party turned out to be a guy named Ori Dorman, who owned a LLC called Endless Investments LLC. Rather then recount what Sarafan says he did in order to get Mr. Dorman to agree to sell the Village the property, I've highlighted the salient part of the memo. You can read the full memo HERE.
In May of 2016, the property was purchased by the Village. Here are the documents.
The item came back again to the Council as a Discussion Item at the December 5, 2017 Council meeting.
By then, little effort was made to talk about this property becoming a part of Optimist Park.
Now the Council members vied to talk about how great this property would be as a coffee shop, or as part restaurant/part meeting space, and of course, they all proclaimed their interest in making sure that this property became a revenue stream for the Village.
The chief supporter of any, and all of these efforts, was none other than MacAdam Glinn.
One important issue needs to be mentioned here, and that is, unlike the first two discussions held about this property, now that MacAdam Glinn is the Mayor, he demonstrated his abiding dislike for resident participation, by not opening up the floor for residents to speak.
I cannot urge you strongly enough to take the time to look at this video.
In the days following this meeting, local architect Victor Bruce who had been at the meeting, volunteered to provide his services, and on December 12th, he, Tom Benton and Ismael Naranjol Gonzalez went to the house for a walk-around.
In mid-January, Bruce submitted several renderings and a rough cost projection of what the Village would have to pay to convert the property into a restaurant.
Here are those documents.
I like the part were Sarafan wrote, "I expressed to Mr. Dorman my serious concerns regarding what had thus far occurred in this case and my interest in investigating all of this to get to the bottom of it. He understood what I was suggesting and I was able to persuade him that the better course might be to negotiate a transaction whereby the Village acquires the property.
It seem to my jilted sense of how lawyers sometimes behave, that Sarafan was essentially accusing Dorman of playing fast and loose by paying for both sets of layers representing the property owners, and unlike an ethical lawyer should behave when confronted with questionable or illegal behavior, he decided instead to exploit that information - supposedly for our benefit - and threatened Dorman into selling the property to the Village, and to sweeten the deal, offered him a payment of $49,000 in what some might consider little more than a bribe.
Of course I could be wrong, but if I am, then it would be up to our esteemed Village Attorney to explain how I mistakenly saw an example of legal extorsion where he would claim there was none.
I will bypass the opportunity - although it's certainly an issue that I would gladly revisit at a later date - to address the issue of the ethics of our Village Attorney taking advantage of what appears to be questionable, if not illegal behavior on our behalf, but there are issues more important to deal with.
As with the discussion at the June 2016 meeting, MacAdam Glinn started off talking about the "unique opportunity" to purchase this property because it would allow the Village to, "double the size of one of our parks."
Councilman Zelkowitz questioned the wisdom of purchasing the property and then take it off of the tax rolls, and followed by asking the Planning Director speak on the status of the current Zoning of the property.
He replied, "Single family residence."
Zelkowitz then asked what the Comp Plat was for the property, and the Planning Director again repeated: "Single family residence."
After some more discussion, Mayor Burch opened the floor for public comment, and once again, no one stood up and said a word.
The conversation that pivoted to discuss other uses for property, and MacAdam Glinn in a move faster than Donald Trump pivoting from attacking the NRA to praising them, pivoted from being all in on making this property part of Optimist Park, became a supporter of possibly making the single family house into a restaurant.
You need to watch and listen to this discussion.
On Tuesday, March 5th, the Village Council will discuss hiring a Real Estate Broker to market this property.
Here are several issues that concern me, and that I think should concern you.
ISSUE NUMBER ONE
During the course of these Council meetings there were mentions made on several occasions about the need to consult with the residents about this property and what to do with it.
At the last meeting, Mayor MacAdam Glinn didn't even bother to open the floor to public comments, so it appears that if there is going to be any discussion, then Tuesday's meeting is going to be it, and therefore all the people who are concerned are going to have to show up.
ISSUE NUMBER TWO
This property is zoned for a single family residence. Zoning can be changed, but to make a decision like this about inserting a restaurant into a residential area zoned and platted for single family residences without even bothering to reach out to them long before this decision to approve hiring a Real Estate Broker to market the property as a restaurant displays both a high degree of arrogance, and a willingness to abuse the residents who live in proximity to this property.
ISSUE NUMBER THREE
A major reason that the Council members will give for deciding to go with a restaurant instead of tearing the house down and coverting the property to park land is the loss of revenue, which they hope to recoup though what seems to be a deal to rent this property.
That begs the question of why the Village Attorney didn't just walk away once he discovered that the property had been purchased by this guy Doran?
In short, why go through this loop-de-loop to buy a property under the guise of coverting it to park land, and then decide after purchasing the property to refurbish it and turn it into a restaurant, when this guy Dornan's plan was to rehab the house into a "Spec House" and sell it.
If this decision is really about generating revenue for the Village, then the property taxes from this house would have ended that discussion?
ISSUE NUMBER FOUR
Why was our Mayor MacAdam Glinn so quick to do a 180 turn from gushing over the possibility to expand Optimist Park as a way to double its size, and then, become the major proponent to speak about the benefits of a restaurant?
ISSUE NUMBER FIVE
Because of the way that Tom Benton has behaved in the past when providing a sweet deal to the company that has the lease on the Golf Course and Country Club, is this all part of a long-term pre-arranged deal, that has somebody waiting in the wings to submit the winning bid to run the restaurant.
Benton demonstrated when he conducted the RFP search for a lobbyist that he was not above stacking the so-called Selection Committee with Village employees who would basically vote which ever way he wanted them to vote.
ISSUE NUMBER SIX
Just how much more bullshit, slight-of hand duplicity and outright disrespect are the residents of Miami Shores going to put up with before some of you finally decide that enough is enough, and that if it takes a lawsuit, or a recall of MacAdam Glinn and another Council member, along with a demand that it's time for Tom benton to retire to put an end to this kind of behavior?
THE CHOICE IS UP TO ANY AND ALL OF YOU WHO READ THIS FAR.