Ponce Park Residences To Get Fourth Bite Of The Apple At Planning & Zoning Board, At Request Of City Attorney

Ariel Fernandez

Founder & Editor
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After failing to secure the support of the Planning and Zoning Board at the June 8th meeting, Allen Morris’ Ponce Park Residences will get a fourth hearing before the board; this time at the request of Coral Gables City Attorney Miriam Soler Ramos.

The controversial project has been presented to the board on three occasions. Lengthy discussions have been held each time with a similar result, lack of support for the project. Although not going up for a vote each time, the project has never been able to secure the necessary four votes in favor, which would send it to the City Commission with a recommendation to approve from the board.

Now, City Attorney Soler Ramos has forced the Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Board to convene in July, a meeting the board had already cancelled, in order to consider this project alone. In question, the P&Z’s 3-2 vote to recommend the Commission vote the project down.

City Attorney Issues Opinion

Following Gables Insider‘s inquiries as to the reasoning for her request to re-send the item to the P&Z, Soler Ramos published a City Attorney Opinion on the matter where she states that:

“Section 14-102.3(8) of the of Coral Gables Zoning Code, states ‘… the affirmative vote of four (4) members shall be necessary for the adoption of any motion. A vote of less than four (4) members on a motion regarding an application shall be deemed a tie vote. Whenever a tie vote occurs, and no other available motion on the application is made and approved … the application shall proceed to the City Commission without a recommendation.’ Accordingly, the ordinance above would proceed to the City Commission meeting without a recommendation. However, Section 163.3174, F.S. requires that PZB, as the local planning agency, ‘make recommendations’ to the City Commission regarding amendments to the Comprehensive Plan.”

Soler Ramos’ opinion continues, “The Zoning Code section and 163.3174, F.S. must be read in pari materia with each other and with Section 2-82 of the City Code which reads, in pertinent part: ‘In the event of the [sic] tie vote … the proposed ordinance or resolution shall be carried over to the next regular or special meeting of the commission. In the event that the proposed ordinance or resolution does not receive a majority vote at the subsequent meetings, it shall be deemed to have failed … ‘ However, Section 14-102.3(8) of the Zoning Code cannot be read to deny an applicant the ability to present before the City-Commission in perpetuity. Consequently, the ordinance above shall be presented to the PZ8 one additional time in order to attempt to break the ‘tie’ that results from a reading of Section 14-102.3(8) of the Zoning Code, together with Section 2-82 of the City Code. Should that presentation result in a vote of less than four ( 4) members in favor of the motion, the ordinance can be considered by the City Commission with an explanation of all motions recommending either for or against the ordinance and an accounting of the number of votes for and against said motion, in each instance.”

The P&Z is made up of seven voting members, making a majority four votes. However, Board Member Venny Torre left before the vote was taken for what he explained to be the need to catch a flight and Board Member Alex Bucelo was absent.

The Question Came Up At The June 8th Meeting

The question on whether a four vote majority was needed was brought up during the June 8th meeting. Following the 3-2 vote against the project, the City’s outside counsel who sits as the City’s P&Z attorney Craig H. Coller stated that, “So, we don’t have that you have an opportunity if you want to try to reach a four-vote minimum or we just go with a 3-2 denial which is — was not — will not constitute a recommendation, because 18 there has to be…” Chairman Eibi Azenstat interjected, “So, it goes to Commission 20 without a recommendation.” Coller affirmed, “Correct.”

The P&Z was then instructed to proceed with the remaining votes, even though the comprehensive plan which the entire project hinges on did not receive an affirmative vote.


Attorney David Winker who represents Ponce Neighbors, a group of neighbors who oppose the upzoning being requested by Mr. Morris, says it this is another example of a “mistake” by the City being used against residents. “It is not fair that residents now have to argue their case a 4th time- in the middle of summer when everyone was told that the July meeting was cancelled- because of yet another ‘mistake.’ Once again it is residents whose ox is getting gored- this meeting should be postponed until September when residents are back from vacation.”

According to Soler Ramos, it was Coller who “reached out to me the day after the meeting to advise me that the matter would need to return to the Planning & Zoning Board for a recommendation, with at least 4 votes in favor of the prevailing motion, on the Comprehensive Plan Map Amendment.”

Gables Insider has made a public record request for any prior comprehensive plan votes that have gone to Commission without securing a fourth vote or recommendation. The request had not been completed at time of publishing.

Soler Ramos did mention that, “while the applicant ultimately agreed to return to the Planning & Zoning Board, he was not pleased with our opinion and instead argued that the item should be allowed to proceed to the City Commission with the vote of the Planning & Zoning Board at the June meeting.”

Meeting Details

The comprehensive plan will return to the P&Z at 6:00PM on July 13th at City Hall. You can participate in the meeting virtually, on the P&Z’s designated Zoom link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/83788709513.


23 thoughts on “Ponce Park Residences To Get Fourth Bite Of The Apple At Planning & Zoning Board, At Request Of City Attorney

  1. Residents need to voice their opposition to this inappropriate project at the next city commission meeting 5pm July 25th.

    The tower building proposed by Allen Morris & Co. should and can be stopped as it violates both the historic protected city plan and recently approved zoning code.

    There is no reason whatsoever that city commissioners or the mayor should vote to approve any of the multiple special concessions being demanded by the developer (especially not giving the developer a historic protected city street to provide the footprint for the building).

    The enormous number of residents that spoke at the Planning & Zoning Board meeting July 13th in person and on Zoom were clear and objective in their unanimous opposition.

    There is no basis for any of the multiple special requests demanded by the developer to impose this tower where it does not belong.

    The developer knows it. The mayor knows it. The commission knows it. The residents know it.

  2. I am missing something here. I know the location is Ponce Circle Park.
    Exactly what is it Morris wants?
    At one point I heard that the intersection of Ponce and University was going to drastically changed. The southbound lane that bleeds off the the west towards LeJeune, I was told, was being bartered for, in other words, that convenient right hand turn before the traffic light, was going to be removed. Is this the same issue or yet another? Closing that artery would be a huge mistake.
    I confess, I am getting too old for this crap. The Gables is looking less and less enticing for what remains of my golden years…

  3. Really! How else can the residents say no to the monster structures being created in Coral Gables? We need to unite & clean out the corrupted politicians now!!

  4. Let’s pack the room Wednesday evening. Let them know we strongly oppose the zoning change. The time is now!

  5. They never should have let the developer postpone the fourth hearing on the flimilest of grounds with the obvious intent to avoid the packed Commission chambers they would have faced. Such a continence should only have been granted after a full vetting. If the developer can get a continuance on such shaky grounds then the hearing should have been continued until the fall when all residents can participate in the process.

    I have hope that this plainly inappropriate development will be voted down for a fourth time and no further consideration given to it without a substantial revision of the plans to address the many concerns.

    Please Mayor and Commissioners confirm my faith in you.

  6. After reading the history involving this development and all past & present comments, I can say I am 100% against this project, especially with the use of the alley. I can also say it disgusts me the way the City manager and attorney have treated the people they are supposed to serve and we need to start a push to remove them from office. Lastly I was so supportive of Mayor Lago and Commissioners Anderson and Menendez at election time, and you 3 have lied to us about your beliefs and how you were going to serve this City. The biggest disappointment is Lago, and you all can be sure no one in my family will ever vote for you in the next election. You all need to go and take many of the employees with you. You should be ashamed of yourselves at how you are allowing this City to over developed and be run by City employees who show no respect for the residents of Coral Gables.

  7. Now is the time for those who TRULY support the residents to step forward as candidates for mayor and commissioners. They are to be vetted before the election. No more false politicians.

  8. So utterly disgusted with this corrupt city gub’mint. There are just no words. No one listens to the residents it’s just what ever the developers want they get. How much are our commissioners, mayor, and other city officials marking off of this disgrace?

  9. No need crying over spilled milk. People need to contact P&Z members and ask that they skip further discussion of this item and immediately move to dismiss it when it comes up.

  10. These are the issues as I see them. The PAID expert outside consultant allowed the Board members to leave
    even though the vote was 3-2. Everyone was aware that there was a four vote requirement, but he did not force that point! According to the City Attorney he reached out to her the next morning and told her there needed to be another meeting! Did he also say that it had to be a rush meeting? Did she tell him and the developer’s attorney that it would be scheduled for the next scheduled meeting, the August meeting? Why does it have to be in July even though the July meeting was already canceled and posted as such? Why do the residents always suffer the consequences of any mistakes made by the City, the City employees or consultants? The neighbors that are more to lose if this aberration of a project gets approved
    took their time and sat through a lengthy meeting to be heard! And now when most of them are away, the issued is going to be brought up again? Can anyone smell something rotten??

  11. FED UP:

    We all have short memories ! We say we will vote thre Mayor and Commissioners out of office but when the time comes we must ACT!

    Ignore false campaign promises, evaluate their actions and sweep them out! But the first to go must be the City Attorney!

  12. Can someone please explain to me what Craig H. Coller said? This City pays additional consulting fees for that kind of opinion?

    “Consequently”? Is that in the zoning code?

    Consequently, it failed, period. It should go to the City Commission with either a failed or a no recommendation.

    This City Attorney is either corrupt or incompetent.

  13. A complaint with the FL Bar Assc should be filed immediately by Ponce neighbors attorney David Winker against this corrupt, useless city attorney. The city constitution needs an amendment quickly taking power away from the city attorney, Mgr & commission while giving it to CG citizens.

  14. The city attorney Ramos and the city manager have to go, period. It is consitantly and blatantly obvious that they DO NOT have the interests of Coral Gables in mind. They took a vow to serve the city and have done the exact opposite. THey should be removed at the soonest possible moment. I voted for mayor Lago on the promise that he would be transparent, fair and limit or stop unnecessary construction and I have seen nothing of the sort. I am tired of these politicians , especially the city commissioners , completely ignoring the Coral Gables residents wishes and siding consistently with the developers. We all must unite, vote them all out or force their resignation. At the end, I put a lot of the blame on Lago for not showing backbone or leadership and acting or speaking out against this. Shame on them all.

  15. This is unbelievable!! Coral Gables City Attorney Miriam Soler Ramos does not represent the interests of the residents of Coral Gables. She should resign immediately and go work for the developers.

  16. How many times must we say no to this project and how many times does the pathetic leadership of this City turn a deaf ear to the RESIDENTS who live here and pay their salaries. The City Manager and Attorney and their autocratic offices and staff do what they want as there must be a profitable back door for these people. This project needs to be downsized and the alley belongs to US;, not you staffers at City Hall. We are against giving this away and we are sick of how you are running this City. Can you not hear and read what the residents say about you. Counting the days that we replace ALL of you and the elected officials, and celebrate when you go off into the sunset. Only problem is we will be left with the mess you have created in this City. NO NO NO to this project !!!!!!!!!

  17. My fellow residents, it is more than obvious that our City Manager and City Attorney and staff cohorts, present and recent past, are puppets with no backbone, fearful of their shadows and whose decisions are always at the expense of our quality of life and monies. Then they retire and who knows all of the “benefits” they receive post-position from those that benefitted from the decisions they made while in their role. Let us not wait for their retirement, rather it is time to strongly push the commission to oust them. The circus has been and is in town at City Hall. From the Wawa clown side show, to millions in construction costs overruns for the new public safety building, to allowing Target on Ponce de Leon to sell liquor in violation of the the required 500 feet from an elementary school to the Futilty Hub, yes futility, and the list goes on. Only incompetence and possible questionable ethics can be attributed to the clowns’ actions and decisions. Time for action. Thank you Ariel for exposing the septic tank in our city government. Yes, we need to rid our city of septic tanks and convert them to sewer.

  18. City attorney Miriam Ramos is corrupt and must go. But, the mayor and the 4 commissioners don’t have the guts to fire her. At the next election, the residents will take care of business.

  19. These residents have to go once more to advocate for their well documented and fought opposition to this project, now thanks to an opinion by the city attorney -theoretically a lawyer that is supposed to defend the residents’ interests — that seems like a legal conclusion looking for an argument. Every city action seems to benefit one constituency, at the expense of every resident. The fix is in.

  20. The rush to slip this single issue meeting in on July 13th with very short notice and many residents on vacation gives the appearance of impropriety. We need to let the City Manager and our elected officials know this meeting should be postponed so that residents can exercise their rights to participate in the process.

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