3,100 sign petitions urging hearing on tribal land trust

Petitions seeking a public hearing in opposition to a tribal land trust for the Miccosukee Golf and Country Club land with more than 3,100 signatures have been forwarded to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

In addition, the Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations (KFHA) Board of Governors has passed a formal resolution requesting a public hearing before any action takes place to approve the disputed action.

Approved on Aug. 20, the KFHA governing group specified that the session should be held in the West Kendall area on a weekday evening.

A letter enclosing the resolution was sent to the attention of Johnna Blackhair, acting regional director for the Bureau, located in Nashville, TN.

“No action has been taken at this time,” said Becky Smith, Tribal Affairs Specialist.

A new Bureau director, Bruce Maytubby, is scheduled to replace Blackhair during September, but the matter currently remains under the direction of Randall Trickey, a former acting director, Smith said. Efforts by the Gazette to reach Trickey and a spokesperson for the Tribe were unanswered by deadline.

When previously contacted, Trickey said that the Bureau was only required to hold a public hearing on tribal land trust transfers when a gambling casino was involved, adding he saw no reason why the Bureau would not consider a request for a hearing, based on the circumstances involved.

In a second action, the KFHA board reached out to Congressional District 26 Rep. Carlos Curbelo, asking that he assist in hosting and advertising the meeting that generated his letter to Blackhair on Sept. 2. It was an action that Kendale Lakes petition leader Aster Mohamad called “encouraging news.”

His letter confirmed residents’ fears of a potential gambling establishment and made a formal request that a public meeting be held with the KFHA and “interested constituents to clarify the process of converting lands into tribal trust.”

A spokesman for Curbelo earlier said, “the Congressman continues to be aware of the concerns of the residents and maintains continuing contact with the Bureau to monitor any actions in regard to the issue.”

Copies of the resolution and correspondence also were forwarded to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Ileana Cruz, assistant county attorney who has already filed a 32-page legal response to the Bureau, asking that any tribal land transfer be denied. Protesting residents of 700- plus single-family homes around the 230-acre property in Kendale Lakes believe approval could lead to a casino or condominium complex, creating serious security and traffic issues.

The issue, originally begun in 2002 with the Miccosukee Tribe’s purchase of the former Kendale Lakes Golf and Country Club, was later dropped, but revived in 2012 and again in 2015 by the Bureau’s notification to Miami-Dade County that transfer of the property as a tribal land trust was still a pending action sought by the Miccosukees to improve their economic status.

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