Support The Crespogram

NUMBER 154 - OCTOBER 8, 2019


Below is an email sent to Warren Adams, the City of Miami's Historical Preservation officer by attorney Frank Schnidman, a nationally recognized expert on urban and regional planning, who until his retirement a year and a half ago had been the Chairman of Florida Atlantic University's Urban Planning Department.

The email is in response to the Miami Herald article that appeared in yesterday's chronicling the demolition of the Shenandoah Presbyterian Church.

His email is self-explanatory, and raises some very pertinent questions of how this building was allowed to be demolished without a hearing being granted to evaluate whether it qualified for historic preservation status.

At the end of the day either the residents of the city come to grips with the fact that the Mayor and members of the City Commission are acting like members of an organized crime family, who have little in any interest is looking out for, or protecting the quality of life issues that residents believe they are entitled to, or the accept that the screwing they are receiving from these thugs.

Copyrighted:  2011,2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

Dear Warren;

After all of my interaction with the Historic Preservation staff and the Historic and Environmental Preservation Board, it is very, very difficult to believe that this was allowed to happen.

As the developer went through the approval process was public notice not required? As the developer went through the approval process did no one notify you that this significant building was the site of a major development proposal, or did staff not feel any obligation to let you know this was happening?  Or does the City of Miami Planning Staff know of the existence of the Historic Preservation Office? Does  the Dade Heritage Trust not monitor these things and know when buildings are at risk?

And, month after month after month when there was a staff report to the HEPB at the beginning of their Board meeting, was there never any mention of the possible demolition of this church because of the development permit application for the site?

And, during the entire permitting process or when a demolition permit was applied for, did no one think to exercise authority under Chapter 23-4(b)(1) --  see below—as you well know, it is not just the Mayor who can ask for a preliminary evaluation.

And, as I recall from the now long-expired Programmatic Agreement on Historic Preservation with the State of Florida that allows the City of Miami to get Federal funds for historic preservation purposes, does the City not allege that it has completed an inventory of all city buildings for historic preservation candidates? If such an inventory were actually done, would not this church have been identified maybe not for National Register designation but for local designation?

It is beyond time for the City to bring in outside experts to revamp the entire historic designation and historic preservation process of the City of Miami.  Shenandoah Presbyterian Church should be the rallying cry that should make the Citizens of Miami realize that when it comes to Historic Preservation, you are a city of men (lobbyists, bureaucrats and politicians) and not laws. You are like children playing a game of “historic preservation.” And, in this case, the HEPB was the “monkey in the middle.”

Shame on all of you.




(b) Procedures for designation. Properties which meet the criteria set forth in section 23-4(a) may be designated as historic sites, historic districts, and archeological zones according to the following procedures: (1) Proposals and preliminary evaluation. Proposals for designation may be made to the board by any one of its members, the mayor, the city commission, the planning and zoning department, any other city department, agency, or board, the Miami-Dade County historic preservation board, or any interested citizen, organization, agency, association, board, or business entity. The board shall conduct a preliminary evaluation of the data provided in the proposal for conformance with criteria set forth in section 23-4(a); and shall, if appropriate, direct the planning and zoning department to prepare a designation report. The board may require the party initiating such proposal to provide any necessary documentation, and to pay any applicable fees. a. Notification. At least ten days prior to the meeting at which the board will consider the preliminary evaluation, the owner of property or his designated agent or attorney, if any, which is the subject of said proposal for designation shall be notified by mail of the board’s intent to consider the preliminary evaluation of the property. b. Interim protection measures. From the date said notice of the preliminary evaluation is provided, no building permit for any new construction, alteration, relocation, or demolition that may affect the property proposed for designation shall be issued until one of the following occurs:

61. The board finds that the property does not appear to meet the criteria for designation and votes not to direct the planning and zoning department to prepare a designation report in accordance with section 23-4(b)(1); or 2. The board approves or denies the designation in accordance with section 23-4(b)(3), or 120 days have elapsed, whichever shall occur first, unless this time limit is waived on the record by mutual consent of the owner and the board; or 3. The owner applies for an accelerated approval of a certificate of appropriateness prior to final action on the designation by the board, and such certificate of appropriateness has been issued in accordance with the provisions of section 23-5. The preservation officer shall place said application for a certificate of appropriateness on the next available agenda of the board. Any owner who carries out or causes to be carried out any work without the required certificate of appropriateness shall be subject to the provisions of section 23-6(f).


- Phillip Pessar