Council settles Dunn lawsuit over road projects

Monday, December 18, 2017 0 Comments

Developer Lowell S. Dunn II sued the town of Miami Lakes for a breach of contract over a development agreement following a comment which suggested the developer was still responsible for making roadway improvements after his family sold the property to the Lennar Corporation.

For the first time since he filed the lawsuit last year, Dunn appeared before council members last week to set the record straight on why the agreement was subject to litigation. 

Lawmakers approved a resolution following a second and final public hearing on amending the N.W. 87th Avenue Development Agreement, and settling several lawsuits against the town brought by the original developer of the 2011 accord.

The agreement, which opened up N.W. 87th Avenue between N,W. 154 and 162 streets, was part of the Lowell Dunn family’s site plans to build residential housing units and a shopping center west of the roadway, and obligated to make road improvements to mitigate any traffic concerns.

The Lowell Dunn family sold the land to Lennar, which agreed to the option of paying the town a mobility fee instead of making the roadway improvements when the Town Council approved its rezoning plans last year.

Dunn said he filed the lawsuit after he learned Lennar’s attorney, Juan Mayol, told council members during a zoning hearing the original developer was still responsible for some of the street upgrades to accommodate the additional traffic from the residential development.

“The intent was the first permit that was pulled, whoever pulled it would do all of the improvements,” Dunn said. “That was part of the deal. When I heard about the mobility fee, the council asked Juan Mayol who will make the other improvements and he said the Dunns.”

According to Town Manager Alex Rey, some of the proposed improvements in the original agreement were no longer necessary to the town.

The town settled the Dunn’s $88,000 legal bill.

Mayor Manny Cid said he would have rather settled the issue outside of court.

“My only request is the next time just call us and not get the attorneys involved,” he said.

Lennar’s building plans that council members approved last year remain the same under the amended development agreement. 

In other Council actions:

• Council members gave their initial approval for an ordinance to establish a new salary for Mayor Manny Cid, which would grow annually commensurate with the Consumer Price Index for South Florida.

The CPI is used to adjust lawmakers’ reimbursements on a yearly basis.

The mayor currently earns $18,000 a year, which hasn’t changed since the town incorporated in 2000.

According to the town, as of August 2017, the index of 2.3 percent is the closet to the town’s previous fiscal year, which ended on September 30.

The salary increase for the current year will be $414.00, giving the mayor a $18,414 a year salary. The increase of $414 amounts to $1.13 per day.

• Council members gave their initial approval for an ordinance to change the qualifying period for a special election in August of 2018 for Seat 3.

Former vice mayor Tony Lama resigned with two years left on his term after he accepted a new job in Seattle, Washington.

Cid appointed Marilyn Murano to the chair until the county’s next scheduled election with the winning candidate serving out the remainder of Lama’s term.

• Council members approved a resolution to adopt the town’s Complete Streets Program, which is among the goals in the Strategic Plan.

The program was designed to enhance mobility for easier vehicular and non-vehicular transportation by requiring streets  to be planned, designed, operated and maintained to enable safe, convenient and comfortable travel and access for users of all people of ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation.

In 2016, the town received grant funding in the amount of $40,000 from Miami-Dade County’s Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) for the creation of Complete Street Program with a Town match of $10,000. Kimley Horn and Associates was contracted to develop the Program. 

• Council members approved a resolution authorizing the town manager to enter into a local funding agreement with FDOT for the design of N.W. 146 Street and N.W. 159 Street underpasses for an amount not to exceed $555,000.

The project is funded with the town’s mobility fee and People’s Transportation funding.

• Council members approved a resolution to authorize the town manager to execute a contract with Rodriguez Trueba and Company, CPA for independent auditing services in an amount not to exceed $250,000.

• Council members approved a resolution authorizing the town manager to apply for an FDOT grant for the town’s Safe Routes to School program.

The program offers to remove barriers that prevent children and parents from walking or biking to and from school safely, to assist in funding the Miami Lakeway North and South Project, constructing a shares use path, tree removal and installation and signal modification. 

The Bob Graham Education Center, located at 15901 N.W. 79 Avenue in Miami Lakes, serves Miami Lakes students in grades K through 8. Traffic congestion occurs during drop off and dismissal peak times on N.W. 79 Avenue, a two-lane access road located adjacent to the school and numerous residential homes. This roadway provides limited access for students, teachers, and parents. The grant will focus on improving and enhancing pedestrian infrastructure on N.W. 79 Avenue, including widening sidewalks, installing curb ramps, and updating crosswalks, inviting students and parents to walk and bicycle to and from this school safely. 

• Council members approved a resolution to adopt the proposed update to the Title VI Plan for Miami Lakes, which is required by federal law, to receive a grant for $864,000 to purchase two buses to expand the town’s transit system.

• Council members approved a resolution authorizing the town manager to execute a contract with Metro Express for construction of the N.W. 82 Avenue and Oak Lane reconfiguration project which is estimated at $72,000.

• Council members approved six joint resolutions to transfer the various special taxing districts from Miami-Dade to Miami Lakes.

• Lawmakers approved Councilmember Nelson Rodriguez’s proposal for his colleagues and town staff to look into the possibility of expanding westbound Miami Lakes Drive underneath the Palmetto Expressway to alleviate traffic congestion until the construction on the expressway expansion project is done.

Rodriguez, who organized the first traffic summit in the town with state and county officials and offered solutions to the traffic problems, said the plan would extend the left turn lane onto southbound traffic. 

Rodriguez wanted to isolate his idea from the town’s Strategic Plan for traffic solutions to expedite the project but his colleagues wanted to stick with the Strategic Plan, which was praised by FDOT officials for not aggressively pushing any traffic issues.  

Cid said town staff worked with FDOT on proposed solutions for Miami Lakes Drive and Rodriguez’s proposal should have been included, which led to a discord between the two lawmakers. 

• Lawmakers approved Councilmember Luis Collazo’s proposal to direct town staff to work with the Neighborhood Improvement Committee to include the town’s bike sharing program, SPIN, in the town’s Neighborhood Matching Grant program.

The matching grant program could be utilized to assist communities wanting to provide the SPIN program in additional points of distribution closer to neighborhoods.

• Lawmakers approved Collazo’s proposal for town staff to look into the Older American Act Funding and Elderly Affairs Programming to help fund Miami Lakes’ Elderly Affairs Committee Lunch Bunch, which is an opportunity for senior citizens to meet and enjoy a meal and engage in activities together.

• Council members approved the town manager’s request to reschedule the Tuesday, January 2 council meeting to January 16 to give town staff town time to prepare an agenda following the holiday season.

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