Just got the news this morning about the postponement of today's Hallandale Beach Planning and Zoning Board's meeting on the Diplomat's plans for at least 1,300 more condos in the postage stamp duchy that is Hallandale Beach.
Yesterday afternoon, I swung by the area to see if they had the posted meeting signs that conform to the new and improved rules.
While I didn't personally see them, camera at the ready, perhaps they were removed after the meeting was postponed. But wouldn't that have just necessitated changing ther date and time on the posted sign?
The city's website this morning reads: Planning and Zoning Board – Diplomat Land Use Plan Application. The Planning and Zoning Board Meeting for December 12th regarding the Diplomat Land Use Plan application has been canceled and deferred to the January 23, 2008 Planning and Zoning Board Meeting. For additional information please call (954) 457-1378.
I spoke to some of the members of the HB Planning and Zoning Board after their last meeting, and based on what I saw and heard that particular Wednesday, they seem to be exercising their mental muscles and experiencing a "born again" moment, at least, compared to other parts of the city's body politic.
I say that based on what a few members expressed to me afterwards, the most important of which was that no matter what, they are NOT going to allow the upcoming Diplomat hearing to even start unless they all have all the pertinent land use info days before the hearing, instead of the usual HB modus operandi.
That, so I infer from the comments of the Board, is where the developers' materials are sort of dropped off at the last minute for staff to digest and review, leaving the Board in the awkward position of being behind the learning curve as far as knowing the material well-enough to pose the sort of probing and pertinent questions a subject like this demands. Go figure!
In particular, I congratulate PnZ member Arnold Cooper for saying at length and with some conviction, that he'd seek to postpone the upcoming hearing, rather than allow it to start with incomplete info and not enough time to review it.
Sort of makes me wonder how long this pattern of gathering info at the last minute has been going on. It would explain a lot of what I see around the city.
Hmm... if only the HB City Council had actually worked like this last year before they approved Gulfstream/Forest City's Village of Gulfstream project, months before the city's own consultant's transportation study was completed for a city currently rated "D" on road congestion.
Along those same lines, Mr. Cooper wondered aloud, to some laughter, how it was possible that, a whole year later, with roughly 4,000 more units out there, that HB could still be rated a "D," on road use.
It was all I could do to stifle myself from laughing out loud from my seat towards the middle of the chambers!
At some point soon, I may just have to acquaint the Board with some learned bit of knowledge that was dropped on me by several very frustrated employees of the Broward County Traffic & Engineering Dept., just months after I returned to South Florida from Arlington, VA.
In some ways, I suppose, those particular comments to me, made over several months, were the very foundation for my decision to start this particular blog. Obviously, knowing what I know now, I just wish I'd started it sooner.
So you ask, what did these very knowledgable Broward County employees whisper into my ear?
Plenty! Only that thanks to the longtime incompetent policies of the Hallandale Beach Police Dept. and the auxilary folks who work traffic control on Gulfstream's racing days -theoretically, to prevent blocked intersections- continually make a bad situation infinitely worse under the guise of solving the problem, the ultimate indignity.
I asked whether part of it was due to the clear lack of attention that's paid to emerging traffic patterns, since 99% of the auxilary folks I've ever seen assigned to this duty are constantly on their cell phones. You know, as opposed to being actively engaged and pro-active, and actually using their whistles once in a while to stop 'creepers' and actually writing tickets to people who are "blocking the box."
They semi-ignored this low-hanging bit of fruit while nodding with a smile.
But they did say that the manipulation of the traffic light signals actually makes the ingress/egress situation far worse, causing ripple effects that radiate outward from the area, particularly along HBB towards both A1A and I-95.
That actually confirmed some things I'd once read in The New Yorker -Yes, The New Yorker- on traffic about 5-10 years ago.
By their improper use of the signal light at US-1 & HBB, they well, that's a topic for another time.
The Miami Herald
HALLANDALE BEACH: Diplomat is pushing for more growth - Residents in Hallandale Beach are concerned about a proposal to build condos at the Diplomat Country Club.
By Jasmine Kripalani
November 15, 2007
A developer wants to build another 1,400 condos and town homes in Hallandale Beach, the South Broward city that already has congested streets and at least 1,600 new housing units on the way.
Despite the slow housing market, the owners of the Diplomat Country Club want city approval to build 1,388 units around their 18-hole golf course east of Federal Highway and north of Hallandale Beach Boulevard.
It's the latest step in Hallandale's transformation from a retirement community to a more diverse -- and more crowded -- city like neighboring Aventura.
The developers hope to sell units for around $600,000 each. They estimate that the city's population would swell by nearly 2,600 people.
But the developer may lack the support from city commissioners."I've made it clear to the developer that I would not support that amount of units," Mayor Joy Cooper said.
Commissioner Keith London said he has called residents to tell them about the developer's intentions.
And some residents who met with developers this month are raising concerns about traffic and construction impact.
"The traffic we currently experience has become unmanageable. If I needed to get to the hospital, could they get me there safely? Would I still be alive by the time I get there?" said Armin Lovenvirth, a 30-year resident of Hallandale Beach and a member of the city's planning and zoning board. "We have huge projects that haven't even begun."
Among them: the 29-story, 118-unit European Club along Hallandale Beach Boulevard between Federal Highway and State Road A1A; and the Village at Gulfstream Park, 901 S. Federal Hwy., which is slated to include 1,500 condos, 70 shops and restaurants and a 2,500-seat movie theater.
Resident Carlos Simmons, 61, said he questions whether the demand is there.
"We have the two structures behind Winn-Dixie," Simmons said, referring to the towering Duo condos at 1725 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd. "I live across the street, on Golden Isles Drive, and there are hardly any lights on at all at night.
"In August, the city placed a six-month moratorium on all new development in order to map out a growth plan. A consulting firm is working on the plan.
The attorney for the Diplomat project said Broward County's population will increase and that's what drives the demand for housing.
'I think we have a responsibility to accommodate the growth and the question is, 'Where do you put it?' ' said Debbie Orshefsky, an attorney for Diplomat Properties. "What we have is a short-term slow down, but long-term, people are moving here and people are having kids."
The issue is scheduled to come before the Planning and Zoning Board on Nov. 28. The board will make a recommendation to city commissioners.
Commissioners would hear the issue a couple of months later. The final decision could be made by the summer, Mayor Cooper said."I've looked at this development and I'm skeptical of the amount of units and I've been very vocal to them about this," Cooper said. "I would support an expansion of the hotel."
The Diplomat Country Club, 501 Diplomat Pkwy., currently houses the golf course, a tennis center and 60-room hotel. Developers have also proposed expanding the hotel to more than 300 rooms and would do this by rearranging the maintenance facility.
"I would never approve any residential units that would have a direct adverse impact on the championship, 18-hole course," Cooper said.
Orshefsky said the proposed expansion would not affect the quality of the golf course.
Golden Isles Drive Association President Ed Napolitano, 42, said he supports more development.
"I like growth in an area and anything that's going to bring a younger, vibrant crowd," Napolitano said. "I'm all for it."
Copyright (c) 2007 The Miami Herald