In Miami Shores, debate is brewing over a neighborhood where a developer wants to put some businesses.
The main concern: Biscayne Bay pollution and quality of life. But project managers say their plan will actually benefit the village.
The area in dispute is currently a bulldozed lot, surrounded by a fence near 105th Street and Biscayne Boulevard. It used to be a motel and is zoned for motel or multi-family use.
Brad Smith, director of development for Stern Properties, said the project is in two phases.
“The first phase closest to the canal would be an Aspen dental office, a Chipotle and a two-[tenant] building and that makes up about 70% of the project."
But it’s the other 30% of the plan that’s drawing controversy and criticism from some neighbors, like Carol Respondek.
“My biggest concern is environmental," Respondek said.
Stern Properties also wants to build a gas station and a convenience store—which would be near a canal that leads into Biscayne Bay.
Respondek said: “We are desperately concerned about our bay. Our canal and bay we've seen fish die off, less manatees and we’re really concerned about the gas station."
But Smith says it plans to build the gas station so that it wouldn’t create environmental hazards.
“We would grade the site at the highest elevation of the canal to direct water away from the canal and we'd have a storm water management system and we would collect all water from onsite and it would not be permitted to discharge any water into the canal," he said.
Last month, Village Council gave first-round approval to the zone change—it's up for a final vote next month.
None of the council members who voted yes agreed to an interview with NBC 6. But they heard a lot from the public for and against the plan.
One resident in favor said it’s going to bring better business, another said it's a positive to the tax base for for more jobs. A resident against the plan said she worries about gas tanks being compromised and another expressed concerns about crime and safety.
The developer still has a few weeks to convince neighbors and the village to favor their plan.
Smith said: “It’s more to us than just a project, we do want to involve the community and we’re continually trying to do that the whole time and find ways to incorporate their feedback.”
Even though the council has voted to move forward with a possible zone change, the planning board staff recommended against it, citing the same concerns as some residents.
But if the zone change is ultimately approved—the project still has to be voted on separately.