School's Plans Upset Area Residents
Plametto Bay's residents are upset about a purchase of 33 acre mango grove by Palmer Trinity Private School. The mango grove lies south of the school's current campus at 7900 SW 176th Street. The school's property now runs from SW 176th on the North to SW 184th St on the South. The total campus is now 53.77 acres. Activists opposing the expansion of the school campus point out that the school pays no property taxes, and 84% of their students do not live in the Village of Palmetto Bay. Activists say that the planned expansion threatens property values and quality of life.
The school plans on replacing the 33 acre mango tree canopy with a private football stadium, a 50+ foot gymnasium, a 50+ foot performing arts center, 4 baseball/soccer fields, 10 tennis courts, lighted basketball courts, and a swim stadium. Opponents say that the additional traffic generated will affect everyone in the area and point out that the school plans to add daycare through fifth grade on the North Campus, so the traffic on SW 176th Street isn’t going away.
During their last hearing in 1999 (other hearings occurred in 1961, 1979, 1985, and 1988), Palmer Trinity was restricted to 600 students. According to residents the school promised the neighbors they would never ask for more. In addition, the Fine Arts building they requested was denied and the chapel steeple they requested was limited to 35 feet.
The new zoning hearing is scheduled on February 25, 2008. The school is requesting that the zoning on the grove be changed from AU and EU-2 to EU-M. The school is also requesting an increase the enrollment from 600 to 1400 students and an increase faculty and staff to 240.
The plans include building an elementary school and daycare center on the North Campus with entrance on SW 176th St for approximately 610 students plus faculty and staff. The new entrance for the middle and upper schools will be on SW 184th St. A third entrance will be on the west side of their property on SW 184th St.
Activists opposed to the plans say that the hours of operation for this mega complex will be from 7 AM to 10 PM – six days a week (Monday thru Saturday).
The school plans to add 5 buildings that exceed the building code maximum height of 35 feet – 2 of the proposed buildings are over 50 feet and the project includes building a chapel with bell tower 71 feet tall. The school will install a five foot chain link fence and one row of 30 inch tall coco plums shrubs on 36 inch centers around the grove property (33 acres) as the new “landscaped buffer”
CCOCI (Concerned Citizens of Old Cutler, Inc.) has hired an attorney, Tucker Gibbs, and a city planner, Mark Alvarez, to represent local residents but are urging people living in the neighborhood to attend the Palmer Trinity Zoning Hearing (#VPB 07-012) on February 25, 2008 at 6:30 PM at the Southwood Middle School 16301 SW 80th Avenue. Final decisions on this matter will be made by the Palmetto Bay Council (Mayor Flinn, Vice-mayor Robinson, Councilman Feller, Councilman Neidhart, and Councilwoman Stanczyk) at this hearing. The hearing is open to the public, and people will have an opportunity to speak for 3 minutes.