Miami-Dade allows developers to cross Urban Development Boundary
After months of delays and four deferrals, Miami-Dade commissioners on Tuesday approved a project that will convert about 380 acres of farmland into an industrial complex north of Homestead.
Driving the news: The developers behind the controversial project secured the two-thirds majority needed to get it passed and veto-proof — despite objections from Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, county staff and environmentalists.
Why it matters: The 8-4 vote allows developers to build beyond the Urban Development Boundary (UDB) for the first time since 2013, the Miami Herald reports.
- The UDB is a greenbelt primarily designed to keep development from encroaching on environmentally sensitive lands like the Florida Everglades, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
- Opponents from environmental activists and Florida's Department of Environmental Protection to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio had fought against the project because of its potential to disrupt a planned Everglades restoration project.
Catch up fast: The planned South Dade Logistics and Technology District will include warehouses, call centers and other commercial uses south of Florida's Turnpike, the Herald reports.
- The developers initially proposed an 800-acre complex last spring, but they later reduced the size and pledged to donate about two acres of land to Miami-Dade's Environmentally Endangered Lands Program for every acre approved for construction.
- They also vowed to pay employees 10% over the living wage, per The Real Deal.
What they're saying: Commission Chairperson Jose Diaz, who voted in favor of the project, touted the development's promise of over 7,000 new jobs and noted that there's on-site arsenic that will require remediation. Diaz called the land "toxic." "
- "At the end of the day, what is important is that the people are not misled, because if it was environmentally sensitive land none of us could go into it, because the federal government would have secured it or we should have done it,” Diaz said at Tuesday's meeting.
The other side: Levine Cava issued a statement saying the vote would increase flooding risks for residents of South Dade and jeopardize the health of the Everglades and Biscayne Bay.
- "Despite clear, bipartisan opposition from the residents and Commissioner of District 8, county planning experts, and federal, state, and tribal leaders, the Board of County Commissioners voted in favor of unsustainable, sprawling development at the expense of our precious natural environment and agricultural economy," she said.
What's ahead: Levine Cava could potentially veto the project, but commissioners can overrule with a two-thirds majority vote.
- "I'm considering my options," Levine Cava told reporters, per the Herald.
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