Kendale Lakes resumes fight over golf course land change

The fight to prevent reservation status for the Miccosukee Golf and Country Club has resumed in Kendale Lakes.

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs informed Miami-Dade County by letter dated Jan. 15 that it intends to take the same action successfully blunted by the Miami-Dade County Attorney in 2012. The letter provides for a 30- day period to appeal the action.

The County Attorney’s Office immediately sought a time extension until the end of March so it could file another formal objection, according to Miles Moss who liaisons the Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations and residents in efforts to block the Bureau’s action.

“We are as vigorously opposed now as ever to placing the grounds within an established community under tribal control,” Moss said. “We’ve already requested Congressman Carlos Curbelo to introduce legislation that will require the Bureau hold a public hearing.”

While federal statute does not require a formal public hearing, the lack of direct public participation in the action is a sore point with longtime Kendale Lakes homeowners, Moss said. A meeting is being planned to rally support and update progress on the county action, he added, noting that filing a resident petition to support the latest appeal would take place.

“The last time we did this I was amazed to find residents from all over Florida had signed the Kendale Lakes petition, including golf club officials outside the county,” he said. “When I asked why, they said the action could set a precedent statewide that could affect any tribal land area.”

Acquisition of the 230-acre golf course as reservation land would expand more than 80,000 acres under the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida in Miami-Dade, Broward, Hendry and Highlands counties. The Kendale Lakes property was purchased in 2001 by the tribe which began a quest to make it part of its land trust in 2003.

“Proposed use of the property is to increase the land base and to keep the land in its natural state and compatible with local zoning and land use plans,” stated the Bureau’s latest notice for an approval.

Tribal leaders have contended regularly they do not plan any use for the land other than the present golf club facility.

Addressed to Mayor Carlos Gimenez, notice of the Bureau’s latest action came from Randall Trickey, acting director of the Bureau’s Eastern Region, who sought details on current taxing, services and zoning status of the land before moving to put the golf course territory under Miccosukee control.

Protesting residents believe the action, if approved, could lead to a casino or condominium in the middle of their neighborhood of 700-plus single-family homes. They also contend that any development could disrupt drainage, and that policing conflicts would arise because the tribe maintains its own police force to act within its tribal land areas.

In 2012, Trickey summarized the Bureau’s poition to Chairman Colley Billie of the Miccosukees as facilitating “tribal economic development and self-determination for a purpose which is not illegal, controversial or in conflict with local land use patterns.

“Although there is the potential for jurisdictional problems and land use conflicts due to a change in jurisdictional authority, I have determined that they do not outweigh the findings in support of the trust acquisition,” that letter concluded.

The Bureau governing the action is located in Nashville, TN, acting in behalf of the U.S. Secretary for the Department of Interior in Washington, DC.

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