Following are answers to frequently asked questions about Smart Charter Group, their application; the effects it would have on the West Kendall area and the zoning rules and procedures.
Q. Who wants to build the Charter School on 120th Street at 133d Avenue?
A. The applicant/developer is a Florida Company named Smart Charter Group, LLC, which was formed in July, 2014. It acquired the property which is the subject of their request in the same year. This company appears to be owned by two other Florida Limited Liability Companies: S.M.A.R.T. Management, LLC and MG3 Developer Group, LLC, both of whom list the same address: 1915 Harrison St., Hollywood, Florida. These two companies appear to be owned by the same three persons: Marcelo Saiegh, Hernan G. Leonoff, and Gustavo B. Bogomolni, all of whom list their addresses at 1915 Harrison St., Hollywood, Florida. These same gentlemen also own another Limited Liability Company at the same address called MG3 Fund, LLC, and one or more of them have interests in a number of South Florida companies which generally have “MG3″ as part of their name.
Q. Why does this matter require a hearing before the Miami-Dade County Commission?
A. Because the developers want the Commission to give them a “Special Exception” to the County’s zoning code to allow them to build a 3,000 student school in a “No School Zone.”
Q. What is a “No School Zone?”
A. The Miami-Dade County Zoning Code, Chap. 33, Art. XL, for safety reasons prohibits the construction of new residences, churches, places of public assembly and educational facilities in a safety zone extending 5 miles from the end of Tamiami Airport’s runways. The Code expressly created an “NSZ” (“No School Zone”) zoning classification which provides: “New educational facilities, excluding aviation schools, are not permitted within this land use designation.” The site on which Smart Charter Group, LLC, proposed to build its 3,000 student school sits within this zone. The BridgePrep school now existing on that land was granted a “variance” from that use limitation in 1979 because it pre-existed the NSZ restriction. BridgePrep is limited to 600 students by the existing variance.
Q. What is an “Aviation School?”
A. The Miami-Dade County Zoning Code, Sec 33-390, defines an Aviation School:
“Aviation schools shall mean any educational facility that primarily provides education or training in the science and art of flight, including, but not limited to: the operation and construction of aircraft, aircraft power plants and accessories, including the repair, packing and maintenance of parachutes; the design, establishment, construction, extension, operations, improvement, repair or maintenance of airports or other air navigation facilities, and instruction in flying or ground subjects pertaining thereto.”
Q. Is the Charter School proposed by Smart Charter Group an “Aviation School?”
A. The SOS120Street Committee believes it is not. There is nothing in the application, or the architectural plans submitted with it that evidences specialized classes, workshops or facilities designed for flight training; airframe or aero engine maintenance; airport maintenance or design or parachute packing. There is no commitment in the application regarding the hiring of instructors in these fields. There is no showing the applicant or its principals, teachers or employees have any experience or history in these fields.
The ordinance defines an “Aviation School” as one that primarily provides aviation-related training. Over 40% of the projected enrollment will be K through 8. The Committee believes it is unlikely an aviation related curriculum can be developed for students so young, and that the sole reason the zoning application refers to an “Aviation Charter School” is to get the zoning application through the “No School Zone” exception.
Q. What is the SOS120Street Committee?
A. It is a committee made up of the residents of the neighborhoods closest to the proposed location of the school on SW 120th Street and what would be SW 133d Avenue. However it has members and volunteers from all over the West Kendall area. We are all affected by the present traffic overload and will all suffer by the increased traffic burden the 3,000 student school will create. SOS 120 Street, Inc., was created by the Committee to raise the funds and pay the costs necessary to oppose the Smart Charter Group’s requested Exception.
Q. Why does the SOS120Street Committee oppose the school expansion.
A. There are safety and traffic issues. There is a reason why there is a no school zone and limits on new home construction in airport landing zones. They are dangerous. Tamiami Airport is one of the busiest general aviation airports in the country. General aviation airports handle all kinds of aircraft, of all ages and conditions, flown by pilots with all kinds of experience – and inexperience. This includes student pilots.
Then there is the traffic. Everyone who lives near, or commutes on roads from, Southwest Kendall is aware of the overwhelming amount of local and commuter traffic that uses the East/West streets and roads in our area, especially during the morning and afternoon rush hours. The traffic not only causes gridlock on SW 120 Stree, but commuters trying to avoid it also jam SW 112th, 104th, 88th (No. Kendall Drive) Streets and shortcuts through local neighborhood Streets. The Smart Charter Group’s own traffic study (required for its zoning application) says this school will generate 7,400 car trips per day on 120th street. Much of it will be during the peak morning commuting hours. The traffic study is part of the public application and can be read in full on the County web site, referred to at the bottom of this page. The Miami-Dade Police Department Review of the zoning application says:
The existing traffic conditions in the area and surrounding roads are already overtaxed. The current configuration will expose the area to an increase in the existing excessive traffic during peak times and the lack of adequate egress and access to and from the school onto arterial roadways will require law enforcement intervention in perpetuity to facilitate the movement of said traffic. As such, the Miami-Dade Police Department objects to any proposed zoning modifications to complete this project.
Q. What is the present status of the Smart Charter Group’s application for the Zoning Exception?
A. The application, including its supporting documentation, and reports and comments by all relevant County departments, is presently before the Miami-Dade County Commission awaiting the public hearing required by State and County Law. The County has asked for additional documentation from the applicant. No final hearing date has yet been set.
The entire zoning application, with exhibits, is on line at the Miami-Dade County site: www.miamidade.gov/rer/track/case_track.aspx
Once at that site you can type in the name of the applicant: Smart Charter Group, LLC or type in the Process number: Z2016000020