Miami- Dade Commission rejects Horse Country shopping center

A vocal majority attired in yellow “Horse Country” T-shirts cheered the Miami-Dade County Commission on Nov. 18 after its unanimous (12-0) rejection of a proposed shopping center at SW 56th Street (Miller Drive) and 127th Avenue.

The formal text of the resolution ordered withdrawal of an application that would have allowed commercial construction on a 10-acre tract facing north on Miller Road.

“It was a huge victory for the Horse Country people,” said Commissioner Javier D. Souto who moved to withdraw the application, seconded by Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava. The vote carried 12-0 with Commissioner Sally Heyman absent.

Souto said he had “done my homework” before casting a “no” vote, disclosing that he had sent a letter of inquiry canvassing approximately 700 registered voters asking each to check a “yes” or “no” box to favor or oppose the application. A returned, stamped envelope was included with the mailing.

“Of just over 200 returned, the vote was 182 against and 28 in favor,” said Souto who noted he first checked with the Department of Elections that had ruled it was legal to use county funds to conduct the mailed inquiry.

“The people spoke and I always have respected what the people in my district say and vote accordingly,” declared the veteran District 10 commissioner.

Petitions carrying more than 4,000 signatures and comments protesting a change of agricultural zoning had been circulated by the Bird-Kendall Homeowners Association prior to the vote.

“The county master plan sets good planning standards to restrict unwanted development within established community neighborhoods,” said Michael Miller, president of the association. “While the board often receives criticism as well as political influences to disregard this umbrella of protection, overwhelming numbers support withstanding economic pressures to disregard this last barrier to unwarranted and environmentally destructive development,” Miller said.

Juan Mayol, attorney who represented Southeast Investments at the hearing, had “no comment” after the vote that also brought out residents wearing red Tshirts with the slogan “Every Neighborhood Matters.” Mayol argued that retail options at the center would ease driving for residents who must go outside Horse Country for shopping.

Attorney Tucker Gibbs, appearing for the association, was unable to be reached for comment prior to the deadline for this story.

A second Comprehensive Development Master Plan change that would allow development of “Green City” on 850 acres in the northwest corner of West Kendall was denied. Opposed by the Miami-Dade planning staff, the area is bounded by SW 64th and SW 88th streets between 167th and 177th avenues.

Commissioner Juan Zapata moved that a resolution for Application 7 be adopted and transmitted to state with a recommendation to deny, seconded by Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz. Responding to a query by vice chair Esteban Bovo, assistant county attorney Dennis Kerbel advised the transmittal would not move the urban development boundary. However, he noted a recommendation of denial “would signal to the state the board’s intention and to further consider the application,” according to the commission minutes. Following discussion, the board proceeded to vote on Zapata’s original motion and wound up tied 5-5 with Commissioners Danielle Levine Cava, Audrey Edmonson, Dennis Moss, Rebeca Sosa and Xavier Suarez voting “no.” Commissioners Heyman and Souto were absent. Following additional questions or comments the commissioners proceeded to vote 8-2 that Application 7 be denied and not be transmitted.” Zapata moved the action, seconded by Diaz with both Diaz and Bovo voting “no.” Absent were Commissioners Souto, Heyman and Jean Monestine.

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