Proposed development fails as vote to extend UDB falls short

Despite a 6-5 favorable vote on Dec. 15, Miami-Dade County Commissioners fell short by a single vote needed to extend the Urban Development Boundary (UDB) in West Kendall.

Bitterly opposed by environmental and UDB preservation activists, passage would have allowed a commercial center to spring up on agriculturally zoned acreage at the corner of SW 88th Street (Kendall Drive) and SW 177th (Krome) Avenue.

The property borders the farthest residential and commercial currently underway in western Miami-Dade County.

At stake was a Comprehensive Development Master Plan (CDMP) amendment that would have allowed development on a 61-acre bean field designated within a wellfield protection zone for Miami-Dade’s largest underground aquifer that supplies drinking water countywide.

With a simple majority of seven of 13 commission votes needed to move the UDB, a 6-5 count failed on District 11 Commissioner Juan Zapata’s motion to forward the proposal for a state review with a negative recommendation, seconded by Commissioner Barbara Jordan.

The five “no” votes that blocked that decision were cast by Commissioner Daniela Levine Cava, Audrey Edmondson, Dennis Moss, Rebeca Sosa and Xavier Suarez. Commissioners Sally Heyman and Jean Monestine were absent when the tally was taken.

Julie Dick, staff attorney at the Everglades Law Center, a nonprofit firm dedicated to preserving the natural landscape of Florida, keynoted objections for the project’s wellfield location, encroachment on the Everglades National Park ecosystem and inconsistency with CDMP protection against sea level rise.

“This is an industrial site on top of our wellfield,” she declared, adding that future predictions of sea level rise would increase the potential of contamination without any development of the property.

County planning chief Mark Woerner told commissioners that “there is no need for urban expansion at this time,” adding “there is an adequate supply of land within the UDB” for such development.

The application was backed by its owners that included Rodney Barreto, a lobbying firm, and Sergio Pino, one of the most active residential builders in West Kendall, both donors to commission races and Mayor Carlos Giminez’s campaigns.

Less than a month before, commissioners on Nov. 18 turned down a CDMP change that would have created a “Green City” residential and commercial development on 850 acres at the northeast corner of Kendall Drive and Krome Avenue, losing by a 5-5 count on a similar Zapata motion for state review.

While outside the UDB line, the area is slated for future growth if the UDB is moved farther west. A second motion by Zapata later defeated the proposal outright, 8-2.

At the same session, the commission rejected a shopping plaza that required approval for its location within the current UDB in West Kendall’s Horse Country at SW 56th Street and 127th Avenue.

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