Civil War on Las Olas – A Temporary Lull

by Bernard McCormick Wednesday, May 19, 2010 8 Comment(s)

Keep in mind that your correspondent has a major conflict of interest in this report. I live in Colee Hammock. So does Fred Grimm, the talented Broward columnist for the Miami Herald, from whom we hear nothing.

There has been an armistice of sorts in the battle between the Colee Hammock Homeowners Association and the First Presbyterian Church on the church's plan to build big on Las Olas Boulevard. Wednesday's hearing at the Fort Lauderdale Planning and Zoning board will not vote on the issue. Reason: There is no quorum. The board has nine members and four recused themselves last month. That leaves five, and one member can't make the meeting. No vote possible.

This works for the benefit of the neighborhood, and is a backfire of the church's effort to force members to recuse last month. The tactics were crude. There was pressure on the city attorney to demand the recusals. The city, of course, denies this. But too many people of strong character will stand up to argue that point. Four board members did recuse; three would have voted against the church. One of those who recused felt pressure from his employer. Word of this is all over town, and the people in adjoining communities – the Las Olas Isles, Victoria Park, Sailboat Bend, even Rio Vista – are realizing that this Planned Unit Development (PUD) can be used on their own turf to permit developers to destroy zoning codes.

It is one hell of a political battle. Dan Christensen, whose Broward Bulldog blog broke the story and is keeping it alive, has lined up people at least as powerful as the church and the developer, Stiles Corporation. That story will break in a timely fashion. Christensen's sources include important members of the church, who are furious at their leadership, and are coming out of the closet, one by one. This is a civil war amid a civil war, much as the real one some 150 years ago. The story has been slow breaking, but breaking it is, and the month's delay before final arguments at P & Z only works to strengthen the numbers of green shirts in the audience.

The green shirts are not Notre Dame's big game jerseys. They say "Colee Hammock 1916," and that says a lot.


Well put Bernie!!

This Comment had been Posted by mmccormick

Well put Bernie!!

What is the dispute regarding Colee Hammock, Mr. M...

This Comment had been Posted by mmccormick

What is the dispute regarding Colee Hammock, Mr. McCormick? What are the neighborhood building plans being contended? The subject is interesting. I'm just not sure what the specific issues are. Thanks!

Bernie, you have such a way with words. We will t...

This Comment had been Posted by mmccormick

Bernie, you have such a way with words. We will take all of the help we can get - even when it means postponing the P&Z decision for 2 months. Thanks for sharing with your readers! ann

You don’t live in a hamlet or a village. You live...

This Comment had been Posted by mmccormick

You don’t live in a hamlet or a village. You live in an urban environment. Urban areas are created and further developed by the process of urbanization. An urban area is characterized by higher population density and vast human features in comparison to areas surrounding it. Urban areas may be cities or towns, but the term is not commonly extended to settlements such as villages and hamlets. If you don't like living in an urban environment, you should move to the suburbs where things are zoned very specifically and hamlets and villages are named with plaques and marked by guard houses and PVC gate arms.

20 years ago, the only downtown building over 15 stories was the Landmark Bank Building. The entire city has grown in leaps and bounds since then. Ft. Lauderdale is not the place it was 40 years ago. Although it is charming and romantic to swoon over the city as it was, it is changing, and it will continue to do so. You must adapt.

It seems to me that you are being selective about the type of change that is taking place and who is making those changes. I didn’t see any mention in any of your past blog posts regarding St. Anthony’s intention to expand their school and litter their property with portables. (Although you mentioned how stoic it was for St. Thomas to relocate from that location 30 years ago). Did you not post it because you don’t consider the addition of portables expansion, or because you don’t think that will affect traffic, property values and/or neighborhood charm? St. Anthony’s is located in a more residential area than the proposed FPC project and would most definitely have an effect on nearby property values. Hypocritical much?

Regarding the retirement home that was located on the FPC property, those were NOT only Presbyterian church members as one Episcopalian mistakenly pointed out, they were retirees of all denominations. They were not “shipped off” never to be heard from again. To make the analogy between those “shipped off” retirees and FPC’s Colee Hammock “neighbors”, I say this: it is not FPC’s job to take care of you. It is their responsibility to work WITH the neighborhood, not FOR the neighborhood. Maybe FPC should put a chain link fence around their property and let the weeds grow? It’s also not their responsibility to maintain or create a green space for you.

Speaking of green space, the FPC church expansion proposal closely parallels the Sails project on SE 17th ST Causeway in many ways. Why don’t you take a drive over to that property and take a look at how that turned out…when doomsayers like you got into the ear of the politicians. The Sails developer successfully sued the city for a hefty amount of $ for that blunder, by the way.

Also, if there is such tremendous concern regarding property values in Colee Hammock, hire an appraiser to prove your point. How do you perceive that a commercial structure on a major thoroughfare already lined with commercial usage for a multitude of uses (banks, universities, restaurants, hospitals, offices, retail, etc.) will detract or affect your overall property value? It won’t. It is not an Office Depot or a Home Depot or a ToysRUs or any other large commercial property that is going to draw a multitude of traffic. And, it isn’t being built next door to your house, or anyone else's.

Anonymous sounds like a land use attorney. Nicely ...

This Comment had been Posted by mmccormick

Anonymous sounds like a land use attorney. Nicely written, but making some oddly selective points. True, the city has grown, and neighborhoods near the heart of the business district welcomed the redevelopment of property zoned for high rise. They also welcomed the revival of Las Olas Blvd., and are distressed to see the screwed up Riverside Hotel expansion, which destroyed much of the entertainment district without replacing it with something of value.

But these same neighborhoods do not want to become part of that high rise development. That is the reason we have zoning. It provides a balance between commercial development and the rights of homeowners to enjoy pleasant neighborhoods convenient to the benefits of redevelopment. To date, Fort Lauderdale has done an outstanding job of achieving that balance. It is a rare city which has neighborhoods such as Rio Vista, Colee Hammock, Victoria Park, the Las Olas Isles and Sailboat Bend within easy distance of offices, night life. a world famous great beach and a modern airport. But that was no accident. For years the city has closed streets, installed medians and other traffic devices to prevent the inevitable traffic of redevelopment from severely impacting the adjacent residential sections. This project reverses that protective action.

As for St. Anthony, I am not aware of any plans. But the situations are not similar. St. Anhony and Virgina Young are long established schools with traffic patterns and parking in place. If anything, those schools add value to the surrounding neighborhoods. They are good schools in safe locations. The houses (and may rental units) near those schools are pleasant, but hardly comparable to the expensive properties which will be affected by traffic generated by the First Presbyterian Church proposal. Experts have already testified that property values around First Presbyterian will be hurt; in fact already may be by the threat of such dramatic neighborhood change. If St. Anthony has plans, I doubt they include a big garage on Broward Blvd.

How come the first annonomous comment for the proj...

This Comment had been Posted by mmccormick

How come the first annonomous comment for the project was removed Bernie? Are you silencing opposing opinions?

Looks like Bernie censors opinions other than his ...

This Comment had been Posted by mmccormick

Looks like Bernie censors opinions other than his own. Notice the fan mail gets printed and outnumber the opposing view. I took time to write a thoughtful opinion and went to the p&z meeting, but rather than publishing mine he publishes "Bernie, you have such a way with words.". That's censorship for personal gain and agrandizement. Shame in you Bernie.

anonmymous May 26th - why are you afraid to use yo...

This Comment had been Posted by mmccormick

anonmymous May 26th - why are you afraid to use your name in your posting if you think your opinion is worthwhile?

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