Tag Archives: Litigate

BIG WIN for Preserve Grove Isle and all condo owners

Last night Judge Bronwyn C. Miller issued her very well reasoned 32 page ruling in favor of Grove Isle and all owners.

Preserve Grove Isle was originally formed by Alan Goldfarb, Bob Wilder, and Chuck Kaplanek and Jerome Shaw.  There are many other supporters of PGI who have been helpful in pursuing our legal rights.  After learning of the developer’s attempt to shutter our club on May 1, PGI immediately retained Glen Waldman and Jeff Lam to commence a lawsuit against the developer.

This lawsuit was initiated on April 22, 2015.  A few days subsequent to that the association filed its intervention action to enjoin the shutting of the club.  The temporary injunction that has been in place from May 15-Aug 15 has been extended by the court’s ruling.

A brief summary of the ruling:

  1. The Developer is prohibited from closing or demolishing the existing Club Facilities until valid building permits are issued.
  2. During any possible construction by the Developer, the Developer shall continue to provide Club services and amenities on Grove Isle to the unit owners, as commensurate to existing facilities as is possible, including restaurant facilities and services; tiki bar; pool and a minimum of eight tennis courts. The Developer shall work in good faith to build and complete new Club Facilities in advance of construction of other components of redevelopment in order to minimize or eliminate the timeframe within which permanent Club Facilities are unavailable to unit owners.
  3.  The Developer shall make available to all existing and future unit owners/unit owners the new Club Facilities upon their completion on an equal basis.

In short, the Club, including the restaurant, pool, tiki bar and tennis courts, must remain open on Grove Isle and available to the residents of Grove Isle at all times. No closure or demolition of the current Club can occur prior to the issue of building permits for new development. If such permits are issued, temporary Club facilities or permanent Club facilities must be made available on Grove Isle. New Club facilities must be made available to existing and future unit owners.

All issues pertaining to the zoning aspect will continued to be handled by Tony Recio, of Weiss, Sorotta.  This is a major victory for our entire island and will allow us to continue to enjoy our island paradise.

A copy of the ruling may be downloaded by clicking on the image below.

GROVE ISLE - CASE NO. 15-009106 CA 04

GROVE ISLE – CASE NO. 15-009106 CA 04

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Grove Isle Club to stay open pending legal case(s)

Quick Update:  The Grove Isle Club is set to reopen on May 15 pending further court proceedings.

More news to follow.   GI Board Memo now included below.

Legal summary follows below from Glen H. Waldman our attorney who is protecting the rights of Grove Isle residents.

Legal update from The Grove Isle Board - April 29

Legal update from The Grove Isle Board – April 29 (click to open)

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Grove Isle: Full House at Court Today

Grove Isle residents turned out in force today to hear that the Developer’s motion to dismiss our injunction was denied.  One hundred and twenty islanders filled the courtroom and proceedings only finished at 5pm.  The hearing will continue on Wednesday (4/29) at 10.30am in the same courtroom.  We encouraged you to join us then to help Preserve Grove Isle.

For latest update please see http://eepurl.com/bldCeH

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CLOSE THE CLUB, ALIENATE THE RESIDENTS, DIVIDE AND CONQUER: A NOVEL STRATEGY

grove isle

Grove Isle Club’s magical views on to Biscayne Bay

 Grove Isle Update — Key Points:

  • The Residents of Grove Isle have initiated legal action to prevent closure of the Grove Isle Club. This legal initiative is to protect the rights of ALL residents against the shuttering of the Club.
  • We envision that upon the Club’s closure, and in the absence of a demolition permit, the club will be allowed to decay causing many health and safety issues on the island
  • The grandfathering rights that currently allow the Club to operate on the island will be lost if the Club is closed for longer than 180 days.  The developer has failed to address how a replacement club would then obtain the City’s permission to operate.
  • Residents of Grove Isle are protected by the legal documents that established Grove Isle in its current form.
  • We have also learned from a number of residents that they have been approached by agents of the developer. He is again working to Divide and Conquer the island reportedly in the hope to resurrect the 18 story tower plan.

Grove Isle Update — The Detail:

With the Developer’s decision to first close parking access and now to permanently close the Grove Isle Club, including its hotel, restaurant, pool, spa and related amenities, residents of the Grove Isle Condominium Association have initiated legal action to prevent closure of the Club. This legal initiative is to protect the rights of ALL residents against the shuttering of the Club.  We envision that upon closure, in the absence of a demolition permit that has not been issued by the City, the structure of the Club—surrounded by a chain link fence– will be allowed to decay. The grounds will not be tended. Not only will this property become an eyesore, health and safety issues are likely to arise if the Club building is abandoned for a prolonged period of time.

GROVE ISLE EMERGENCY COMPLAINT

Grove Isle legal action

Grove Isle legal action was filed on 22 April 2015 (click to open document)

As residents of Grove Isle, we are protected by the legal documents that established Grove Isle in its current form. These documents committed the Club to provide amenities to all of the condominium owners and residents. This commitment now belongs to the Developer per these legal documents, as recorded by the City and signed by the City of Miami.

Miami Herald Grove Isle Story Headline

The Miami Herald updated the story on Grove Isle last night (click image to open)

The Club is a for-profit commercial operation currently serving both Grove Isle Condominium Association members as well as members from off-island. The Grove Isle Condominium Association, a non-profit organization, is a corporation independent of the Club. Under Miami 21—the current zoning law—the Club could not be built on Grove Isle today because Grove Isle is zoned T5-R, and is limited to residential use. However, because the Club has been in existence for decades before Miami 21 became law, it can exist in its current form in its current location. It is grandfathered to continue its operation. But if it is closed for more than 180 days or if there is attempt to move it to another location on the island, it will lose its grandfather status. This is the urgency for prevention of closure of the Club. Furthermore, there is no approval for a new club, and zoning restrictions will prevent such construction.

We have also learned from a number of residents that they have been approached by agents of the developer.  The strategy is to Divide and Conquer.  The claim is that residents of Bldg 1 and 2 stand to gain from this development but a vocal group in Bldg 3 are interfering with building plans, and that this new development, particularly the 18 story tower, will be great for Grove Isle.  In the meantime, the developer is going to keep punishing the island residents for blocking his development until they submit.  Of course, no mention has been made of the three year construction time line, the movement of demolition debris and construction materials necessary to build the equivalent of one of the existing Grove Isle buildings, the environmental damage, the decreased property valuations and the anti-development sentiment expressed at the recent candidate forum by all residents.  And the legal barriers have been reinterpreted as supporting the rights of development (if this were the case, development would have started two years ago!)

The continued action of the Board of Directors of the Grove Isle Condominium Association in preventing this development is greatly appreciated by all residents.

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Developer Closes Grove Isle Club?

Having closed shared club and residents parking lots on the island, despite easements to the contrary, the developer has now circulated an open letter regarding the future of the Grove Isle Club, which he owns and operates for the benefit of residents of Grove IsleIn this letter, the developer has asked residents to make a false choice between membership options which effectively compromises their rights and closes the club.  Just how low can you go?

Grove Isle Club

Grove Isle Club Developer message was left at residents’ doors yesterday

The Board of Directors has distributed the following message to residents: “We suggest owners consider withholding any response to the Club letter seeking a membership choice while our legal team evaluates the potential effect on our rights. You will receive further information early next week.” PGI concurs with the Board and believes – especially in the absence of notification to members that the Club would close – that this request of the Club’s owners is deceptive and serves to minimize the responsibility for the abandonment of the Grove Isle Club by the Club owner.  A copy of the Board’s response may be accessed [by clicking here].

PGI strongly believes that residents should not respond to the developer’s proposed options.

Furthermore, with the commissioner candidates for District #2 visiting Grove Isle on 15 April, it will be important to direct to them specific questions concerning development of Grove Isle, the North Grove and Coconut Grove in general.

This is an important opportunity to change the current dynamics by finding politicians that seem more in step with our values.

Grove Isle Coconut Grove Miami DC 2 Election

Grove Isle Invites Miami District 2 Commission Candidates (click image to open)

We provide the following background on this issue for your ease of reference:

  1. All of the residents of Grove Isle are obligatory members of the Grove Isle Club, and pay substantial dues to belong.
  2. The Club provides the amenities for the residents, as meticulously described and defined in the Settlement Agreement of 1977. These amenities are valuable and part of the condominium purchase package.  These include access to the hotel, restaurant, bar, pool deck, function rooms, spa and tennis courts.
  3. None of the resident members of the Club have received any notice of the Club closing. In contrast, members regularly receive multiple announcements via email and/or leafleting of special activities and functions at the Club.
  4. Residents have now received a communication from the Club NOT ANNOUNCING ITS CLOSURE but rather offering members the option of suspending their membership dues while the Grove Isle Club is closed or continue to pay their dues and use the Club at the Biltmore Hotel during this period.
  5. The Developer still has not obtained the necessary permits for construction of a new Club. Specifically, no demolition permit has been issued by the City of Miami.
  6. The current Grove Isle Club is non-conforming to Miami 21 since it is a commercial activity in an area zoned for restricted activities (e.g. residential). If the Grove Isle Club, which is currently grandfathered and thus protected from Miami 21, is shuttered, it will lose its grandfather rights.
  7. Under Miami 21, a new Grove Isle Club cannot be constructed in a T5-R zone. The implication is that upon closure of the Club, Grove Isle will never have another club or its associated amenities.
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Grove Isle: legal & parking update

And now bicycles…

The developer has now demanded that Building III’s bike room be emptied — and residents have been given seven days to vacate this space.

During Monday’s Board of Directors’ meeting, Tony Recio of Weiss Serota,  presented a much appreciated legal update regarding the developer’s various plans for the island.   Excerpts of this meeting, which include comments regarding the mediation process and parking saga, may be reviewed by clicking this [link] or the image below.

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Grove Isle: developer’s tow trucks ordered off the island

tow truck grove isle

Miami Police were present with tow trucks on Grove Isle at 6am this morning

Extremely rapid action by our Board and lawyers halted the latest parking action by the 4 Grove Isle developer.  An emergency injunction was issued in our favor at 8.19pm on Sunday.  This court order was shown to the police at 6.00am this morning.  The police then ordered the developer’s tow trucks off the island.  The Board expects the matter to be addressed in court later this week.

A copy of the Board’s latest memo regarding this matter follows below (click image to open).

grove isle parking developer injunction

GI Board memo regarding injunction regarding developer’s parking action (click image to open)

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Developer demands Grove Isle owners park elsewhere

GI Parking

Towing warning posted on residents cars on deck between GI 2 and GI 3

The Grove Isle Condo Association received notice at 4.55 pm Friday (2/20) from the developer of changes to parking availability on Grove Isle.  We are informed that these changes are effective as of 6am Monday (2/23). We attach copies of the relevant notices below for your ease of reference (click image to open) . The matter has been referred to the Island’s lawyers and the Board has advised residents to “take no action until further notice.”

grove isle parking

Grove Isle memo regarding 4 Grove Isle Parking notice  (click to open)

Grove Isle parking

4 Grove Isle Parking notice to Grove Isle residents (click to open)

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Grove Isle briefed by legal advisors on development threat

Rowing on Biscayne Bay - Grove Isle

Ready to pull hard as crew sets off near Grove Isle

Attorneys representing our Association and working with the Board, presented their thoughts on the proposed development on Grove Isle and the status of on-going litigation to the Association members that were able to attend on Monday evening.  This meeting was well attended and the presentation enlightening.  In initial comments, Gilberto Pastoriza of Weiss Serota confirmed that he was hired by the Association to investigate the legal basis for the rapid development of the tower proposal (now known as Plan A) by the current owners of 4 Grove Isle, with Mr. Avila as the spokesperson for this consortium.

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Gilberto Pastoriza of Weiss Serota briefs residents on the developer’s proposals for Grove Isle

Mr Pastoriza emphasized that this development, unbeknownst to the members of the Association, was on a fast track for approval by the city.  “The train was going full speed.  Our job was to stop the train.”  Indeed, with their preparation of the Memorandum questioning the legality of vested rights from the Settlement of 1977 and its distribution to city officials, the developer’s plan is now on hold by the City. This presentation, which was in depth, was successful and informational.  They mentioned that there are various points of view from Association members, including those most concerned about amenities, those most concerned about protracted construction, and those most concerned about any construction on Grove Isle in general.

82vd6+

John Lukacs of Hinshaw & Culbertson updates residents regarding the Association’s successful appeal

It also became clear that the Association members are dependent on a second party, the owners of 4 Grove Isle, to provide them most of the amenities that the Association enjoys (e.g. tennis courts, fitness center/spa, restaurant) and yet the owners, who operate these facilities at a profit, may (or may not—that is a legal issue) have the right to discontinue such amenities.  Mr. Avila’s Plan B includes discontinuation of many of the amenities that the Association members have enjoyed over the past 30+ years but is said to be within the current zoning ordinances of Miami 21.  In addition, John Lukacs of Hinshaw & Culbertson, who also represents the Association, discussed the reversal by the appellate court of the pending suit by the Association against the Club (i.e. 4 Grove Isle), and this suit will be litigated once again, hopefully to the advantage of the Association and its members.

Appeal Report Image

The pending suit by the Association against the Club (i.e. 4 Grove Isle) will likely be litigated once again

The lawyers claimed that the Association members on Grove Isle do NOT have to choose between two bad choices, Plan A (the tower) versus Plan B (5 five story buildings occupying much of the land that is owned by the developer). They emphasized that we have other options….and we, the residents of Grove Isle, are empowered to decide what we want for our future here.

It is now clear from the predictions of the recent poll that a majority of the residents on the island want no development based on what they have seen and heard. “The Grove Isle opinion poll continues to assess the views of Association members and is surpassing our expectations.”  It seems as the entire island is waking up to the fact that they really enjoy this island “the way it is”.  Like the old adage, “you take your health for granted until you lose it,” we don’t always appreciate something important in our lives—including the ambience of Grove Isle–until we are about to lose it.

We will be headed for a requested mediation (non binding) with the city, the developer and Grove Isle representatives on 21 April.  It is very possible that this start date may be delayed.  We feel that this mediation will expose the “no further development position” to all, based upon the opinion poll in progress.

Please keep your letters and e-mails going out to the Miami administrators and elected officials….they are very valuable.  You will find this info on this site at this location (click here).

Thank you for the many, many comments and opinions on this PGI website.  It shows the interest and unity of the Grove Isle residents.  It is times such as this that bring a community together.

You may also now follow developments and share information regarding our island on Facebook and Google+. Click on the icons below for a link to these sites.

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Grove Isle Board provides update regarding 2009 litigation case

The Grove Isle Condominium Board today issued an update on the status of the litigation that was initiated in July 2009.  This litigation addresses 

  • the private versus public character of the Grove Isle Club facilities and the accessibility of Grove Isle to non-residents and non-members of the Grove Isle Club
  • the assessment of annual Club dues as apposed to the initial membership fee provided for in the Declaration of Condominium
  • the Association’s responsibility for the payment of total costs and expenses for maintaining, managing, and operating the bridge, gatehouse, security systems, roadways, and other amenities including providing security service and lighting for the benefit of all Grove Isle. 

Recently a three-judge panel of the Third District Court of Appeal said the Grove Isle Association lawsuit was wrongfully dismissed with prejudice by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge John SchlesingerPlease see the attached document from the Board to read further about the current status of this case (please click on image to open document).

Grove Isle Condo Association Memo - 3 April 2014

Grove Isle Condo Association Memo – 3 April 2014 (click on image to open)

 

 

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