Miami -Dad e County should purchase the entire 6.2-mile abandoned Florida East Coast Railroad right of way in Kendall for a public biking trail and linear park.
That was the sense of a 3-2 vote by East Kendall Community Council 12 following a Sept. 23 public hearing when nearly 200 residents unanimously protested a Florida East Coast Realty (FECR) proposal to replace the 100-foot wide “Ludlam Corridor” with a 25-foot “Greenway,” reserving 75 feet for residential or commercial development.
“Almost everyone has always thought an urban linear park would be the best use of the property,” said council chair Elliott N. Zack who, along with Jose Valdes and Peggy Brodeur, voted to transmit but deny the existing application for a land use revision under the county’s Comprehensive Development Master Plan. Voting outright “nos” were members Jorge L. Garciga and Angela Vazquez.
“A lineal park, like that exists in Seminole County through Winter Springs for some 30 miles could be fantastic for Miami-Dade County,” Zack said after the hearing concluded. “The county has already enumerated several serious concerns the proposal for joint private and public development would cause.”
The CDMP staff analysis criticized the lack of coordination between trail and private development, questions of compatibility with abutting homes and multi-jurisdictional issues with city or county land use and zoning.
The Council 12 resolution stipulates that Flager “should address every single concern” initially raised by CDMP staff as presented at the hearing by senior planner Rommel Vargas, and that the county “consider purchasing the subject property for public use.”
A lineup of more than 30 residents individually voiced complaints about the proposal, ranging from “idiocy of building homes within a public greenway” to costs for bridging east-west streets to provide continuing trail connectivity.
Vazquez, who opened the board commentaries, immediately asked Joseph Goldstein, attorney representing FECR, “Why are we being pushed to make a decision when the plan has so many concerns voiced by the CDMP staff?”
Valdes questioned “density trade-offs to accomplish compatibility with existing zoning and land use,” asking “How can you build a single-family home within a 45-foot width lot after taking away 25 feet for the trail and 30 feet for two 15-foot setbacks, as required under current zoning regulations?”
Brodeur sharply criticized FECR for “bringing in a plan that doesn’t provide any details we need to make an informed recommendation,” as well as “coming here with a trail without a commitment in writing from the county.”
Garciga said his vote reflected his support of the Council 12 recommendation that the county purchase the land as the sole objective for transmittal when reviewed by the county commission.
Holly White, president of East Kendall Homeowners Organization (EKHO), said after the hearing that the board was preparing a resolution of its own to retain CDMP designation of the right of way as a “Transportation Corridor” with appropriate density limitations, adding, “This property should be made as accessible as possible to the people.”
North Central Council 10 voted 5-0 to deny and transmit on Sept 29; Westchester Community Council 8 voted 4-1 for outright denial and not to transmit for action.
The next public hearing on the corridor is scheduled at 2 p.m., Monday, Oct. 20, in the Miami-Dade County Commission Chambers in the Government Center, 111 NW First St., when all applications in the May 2014 CDMP cycle of proposed changes will be heard by the county’s Planning Advisory Board. The county commission currently is scheduled to hold a public hearing at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 19, on the same CDMP applications.