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Homestead City Council Last Meeting of 2018

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Posted: Friday, December 28, 2018 12:15 am | Updated: 10:47 am, Fri Dec 28, 2018.

Mayor Jeff Porter presided over a five member City Council in his last official capacity at the Council meeting on Wednesday December 19.

City Manager George Gretsas addressed the Mayor, “I’ve been on the dais in one form or another since I was twenty-one and this is the most functional elected body I’ve ever worked with - able to put aside disagreements.”

“It’s thanks to your servant leadership,

thinking every day how you can serve the public,” said Gretsas. “You’re a legacy Mayor and you should be very proud of what you’ve done here.”

Councilman Jon Burgess echoed that praise. “We didn’t always see eye to eye but we’ve always managed to maintain a great relationship,” said Burgess. “That’s one of the qualities you bring to the dais - your friendship.”

“Since day one, you reached out and guided me through the process,” said Councilman Larry Roth. “You changed this City. As a citizen of the City, I thank you for what you’ve done.”

“Leadership sets the tone,” said Councilwoman Patricia Fairclough. “And the tone was about your temperance, your diplomacy and your civility which reflects on your character and who you are. We’re going to miss you as Mayor.” 

Mayor Porter admitted it was an emotional moment for him. He said, “This is a legacy Council and I’m honored to be a part of it.” He praised City staff for doing more with less and the team assembled by the City Manager. “Your attention to detail and work with staff shows, George,” said Porter. “You are very important to this community.”

The year’s final Council meeting had been very smooth. Three important issues were handled near the meeting’s end, unanimously and without discussion.

Council approved the budget amendment for demolition of the old baseball stadium by Kingman Drive at a cost of $594,800. A second budget amendment changed fiscal year totals to reflect the several capital improvement projects with all financing and grants.

Council also approved a request for a South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) use permit to construct part of the Biscayne-Everglades Greenway trail. The twenty-three mile trail between the two national parks features a six mile segment wholly within the City of Homestead.

In September, Council accepted state grants of $1.8 million requiring local matching funds to begin a 3.2 mile trail segment along the C-103 canal. The SFWMD permit allows the trail right of way from Mowry Drive to SW 137th Avenue with the City’s agreement to maintain what it constructs.

A project called Palm Villas prompted some Council discussion. The project plans perpendicular parking both on- and off-street for thirty-four units located across from Harris Field. The exit to the property is onto Campbell Drive with its center median strip. The applicant worked with the City on many designs to fit parking into the project.

Councilman Larry Roth objected to the variance. “This is a safety question,” said Roth. “It’s the (potential) U-turn on Campbell that’s the issue; it puts people in harm’s way.”

Councilman Burgess also objected to the one entrance on Campbell Drive. “There are several of these parking designs in the City now,” said Burgess.

“I think it’s time to make someone go out and study the theory versus the

reality of this.”

The final vote on both variance requests was four to one, with Roth voting No. On the final site plan that the applicant was more or less entitled to, Council’s vote was a unanimous approval.

Staff explained a comprehensive plan amendment and rezoning request from Phoenix Apartments on its eleven acre parcel, also off Campbell Drive.

The 164 unit community was constructed as a permitted use in 1995. Since that time, there has been a change in what the zoning allows. The

applicant explained they were seeking to preserve their investment if there should be a catastrophe requiring them to rebuild. Current zoning designation would not allow rebuilding, clearly a negative impact to the families now living there.

Council unanimously approved the comp plan amendment and the change in zoning from B-1A professional business to R-3 for a multiple apartment

district.

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