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Old November 1st, 2008, 12:30 AM   #1
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Battle lines being drawn over development in Miami-Dade farmland


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Does Miami-Dade County need a new suburb on its western fringe?
Home-building giant Lennar Corp. and a group of wealthy and politically powerful Miami business leaders think so and are launching an effort to create Parkland, a community that would eventually be home to nearly 19,000 residents, about 2.5 miles from Everglades National Park.
To build 961-acre Parkland and its projected 7,000 homes, stores, offices, warehouses, schools and a hospital, developers need to win approval to move the Urban Development Boundary, the line providing a green buffer between densely populated areas and the Everglades. The site, between Krome Avenue and Southwest 162nd Avenue near Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport, has been planted in row crops for decades.
The first hearing on the request to move the UDB is scheduled for Monday and sets the stage for the biggest battle in years in the often fierce debate over urban growth vs. sprawling suburbs.
It's an argument that could well determine the course of development in Miami-Dade. At a time when county and city leaders are promoting infill and urban redevelopment, Parkland would be the biggest residential push west in 20 years.
If built, planners say Parkland is expected to have more population than almost half the municipalities in Miami-Dade County.
Critics say it would set a precedent that would eventually open up vast tracts of agricultural fields and open land currently off-limits to large-scale development. ''The future of Miami-Dade is at stake,'' said Laura Reynolds, executive director of the Tropical Audubon Society. ``Decreasing home values, traffic congestion, crowded schools, emergency services, water supply, impacts to the natural environment and Everglades -- all of those things are tied into this one vote.''
But the project's developers say it's a model of smart growth and a rare chance to build a new community the right way from the ground up.
''It will be like Coral Gables or Miami Lakes,'' said Rey Melendi, Lennar division president for Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The first batch of homes are slated for delivery in 2014, when the builders hope huge inventories of unsold homes will have shrunk and the credit crisis eased.
The UDB, capping the spread of subdivisions by limiting construction to one dwelling for every five acres beyond the line, was once nearly impregnable. County commissioners moved it only twice during the 1990s, but it has been under increasing assault this past decade from suburban builders who want more land for industrial parks, malls, offices and homes.
In the past six years alone, county commissioners have voted to move the boundary five times for commercial projects. But if Parkland's developers are successful, it would be the first time in 15 years the UDB has been moved for any housing project.
But opposition is building. Last week Miami-Dade's Planning & Zoning Department said it opposes moving the UDB for Parkland. Environmentalists, civic activists and urban leaders are organizing. On Thursday, two of South Florida's most prominent developers, Jorge Perez and Armando Codina, said moving the UDB for residential development is poor policy.
County Commissioner Rebecca Sosa, the decisive swing vote in two UDB decisions this year, also has declared her opposition: ``I will not support this application.''
Parkland's developers say it would be different from the suburban sprawl that has clogged roadways and produced isolated bedroom communities. The project is designed to be walkable and bike-friendly, a self-contained community with a mix of uses that would encourage less driving -- and perhaps inspire reverse commutes to the 2,550 jobs developers hope to create within Parkland, Melendi said.

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Old November 1st, 2008, 05:32 PM   #2
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There's already a Parkland in Broward... and they've got their own plans up there to absorb 1000 acres of agriculture to build homes for 20,000 people and jobs, etc.

It's no secret Jorge Perez is against it--he has thousands of empty condos waiting to be bought up in downtown Miami. However, he and the others opposing Parkland are right. It would be poor policy. Lennar and other developers should focus on acquiring land around metrorail stations and converting it into TOD's (Transit Oriented Developments). Everyone knows that metrorail will never be extended that far south, so for them to make the claim that this will encourage less driving and be greener is a farce.

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Old November 1st, 2008, 08:46 PM   #3
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These suburbs are a joke. We need to build more efficient and sustainable communities. Besides, why would you want to live out there? In Lennar cardboard houses. These developers have a big ego comparing their cookie cutter dumps Coral Gables..
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Old November 2nd, 2008, 01:49 AM   #4
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Hold the line Miami-Dade.
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Old November 3rd, 2008, 03:56 AM   #5
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Please hold the line Miami!

Enough is enough with these "suburbs". This is only bad for everyone, and will only create more traffic and more stress on our civic institutions. Development needs to be focused in areas near transit, preferably around Metrorail or in areas that have fallen into decay (Overtown, Liberty City, Upper Eastside, Design District, etc). NO MORE SUBURBS MIAMI!
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