Despite staff objections and those listed by the Florida Department of Community Affairs, the Miami-Dade County Planning Advisory Board has approved moving the Urban Development Boundary in West Kendall for commercial development.
Nine members of the 14-member board first acted to deny the application on Mar. 10 but when that motion failed by a 5-4 “no” vote, a subsequent motion approved the application with a restriction limiting any development to 75,000 square feet of neighborhood office and retail uses. Approval by the split vote of the board (with five absentees on Mar. 10) is the last step in the current permitting process scheduled for final action on the agenda of the county commission at a Wednesday, Apr. 28, meeting, 9:30 a.m., in the downtown Stephen P. Clark Government Center.
That’s when the commission will receive “Amendment Four” from the (Merio) Ferro Investment Group LLC represented by attorney Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, of Becker & Poliakoff, asking that 9.9 acres at the southeast corner of SW 167th Avenue and SW 104th Street be changed from agricultural to a combined business and office use.
The area, known as “Kendall Commons,” originally was planned as a housing development, south of Kendall Drive and bordering SW 167th Avenue. Pending commission action has touched off a renewed protest by Miami-Dade’s Clean Water Action organization under the leadership of Dawn Shirreffs, program coordinator, and Margaret Morales, program organizer.
“We expect other organizations and West Kendall neighbors to join us in protesting this effort to move the UDB at a time when empty storefronts exist throughout Miami- Dade County within the boundary, practically begging for tenants,” said Morales, who was photographing “For Lease” signage at strip centers.
The application for a retail shopping center began its path through the CDMP amendment process on Sept. 22, 2009, when Community Council 11 voted 3-1 to submit the document without recommendation. Council chair Patricia “Shannen” Davis voted “no,” explaining she was against UDB movement “on principle.”
A list of objections by the Planning and Zoning staff was seconded later when reviewed by the State Department of Community Affairs that found “no need had been demonstrated” for designating land outside the UDB Miami-Dade County for commercial development. In addition, a 44-page document authored by several state departments concluded that the application included “multiple factors of urban sprawl” and failure to protect agriculture while causing potential impact to an existing water well field.
Morales said that sufficient commercial land has been documented as available within the UDB without depletion “until year 2025 and beyond,” adding that approval of the CDMP change would lead to increased traffic congestion and overextended municipal services.
She estimated that 3 million square feet of business and office space currently is available within a four-mile radius of the site. She also noted the 10-acre parcel is bordered by the UDB “on only one side, creating a pocket of agricultural land surrounded by urban uses which will surely lead to even more development of agricultural land outside the UDB to “fill in” that space in the future.
“This 9.9-acre proposal represents only a small percent of land owned by Mario Ferro in this area. Approval will also set the stage for subsequent surplus development in a wellfield protection area, potentially damaging our already severely taxed water supply.”
In pleading Ferro’s case before both Community Council 11 and the PAB, Diaz de la Portilla said the land is located within an already designated Urban Expansion Area (UEA), deemed suitable for urban land uses.
He said development could not be construed as “urban sprawl” because there already are public facilities and services in place to serve the site.
The attorney previously told community council members that the land was not viable for agricultural use because it was located in an already-developed residential and commercial area between SW 157th and Krome avenues in West Kendall.