Posted on Fri, Jun. 01, 2012
By THEO KARANTSALIS
The Miami Herald
Neighbors are fighting a proposal to allow a new Montessori school on a residential lot across Bayshore Drive from Mercy Hospital in Coconut Grove.
Joan Rodriguez, owner of the Village Montessori School on Coral Way, is under contract to buy a 3/4-acre lot at 1621 S. Bayshore Dr. in the Grove. She wants to expand the 100-year-old house on the site and convert it into a school serving up to 100 children aged preschool through sixth grade.
To do that, Rodriguez needs a “special exception” from Miami’s Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board, which is scheduled to consider the matter at a meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday at City Hall, 3500 Pan American Drive.
The city’s professional planning staffers have asked the board postpone action on the request, however, because they need more information before offering a recommendation.
But board members can expect an earful from nearby homeowners.
“Neighbors are concerned about further traffic expansion,” said Lisa L. Treister, a 28-year resident of the Natoma Manors section of the Grove. “The proposed school is an incompatible use with the single family homes surrounding it.”
Treister sent the board a two-page letter signed by 150 neighbors in opposition to the special exception. The letter says the school would set a bad precedent of commercial intrusion to the neighborhood, contradict the neighborhood’s Conservation District, add to traffic problems on Bayshore Drive, and “disturb the disturb the peace and quiet of the neighborhood as well as the many peacocks who roam the property without interference.”
Rodriguez, a 20-year resident of the Grove, disagrees.
“We plan to enhance the property while preserving its historical nature,” she said.
Her plans call for expanding the 1,900-square-foot home by an additional 1,100 square feet to make room for four classrooms of up to 25 children each.
To preserve the home’s character, Rodriguez would build a “natural” playground and add to the property’s current tally of 63 trees.
She said the school would present “no traffic issues.” Plans call for five parking spaces and a circular driveway with room for 10 cars to pick up and drop off students.
Rodriguez said that she has “full support” from parents and chose the small, historic home for its big lot, which makes it conducive to the Montessori’s “home/life” environment.”
“A recent study showed that there is deficiency of schools in our area of 7,000 students,” said Rodriguez. “There is a great need.”
Note: The board’s staff has recommended that the item be postponed.
Read more here.