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Continued Westward growth in Dade county


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More sprawl. The good news is that the UGB is coming against a hard line pretty soon. Developers and county officials will be unable to move it.


Next development wave to push urban boundary

Susan Stabley

National homebuilder D.R. Horton wants to build a community for 14,000 residents just outside Miami-Dade County's urban development boundary, so now the County Commission must decide whether to move the line.

The boundary, which governs how far west and south development should go, was last moved in May 2002 for the creation of Codina Group's Beacon Lakes. That site, across from the Dolphin Mall, is about eight miles from the Everglades. The western boundary of the D.R. Horton site would extend to Krome Avenue, about a mile from the start of the Everglades. Development in the Kendall area has already crept to the eastern edge of the Horton site.

The boundary line, established as part of a 1975 county comprehensive growth plan, is supposed to stave off sprawl, but the plan also says the county has to provide a supply of developable land.

Horton's Providence development would add 5,400 housing units west of Kendall across 840 acres of agriculturally zoned land, a big chunk of which falls into an area marked by the county for future expansion of the boundary line. Other developers appear ready to cross the line, as well.

"Based on the growth in population, it's a question of 'when' not a question of 'if'," said Miami attorney Miguel Degrandy, who is working with the Arlington, Texas-based Horton (NYSE: DHI) on its application.

Horton's legal team includes two lawyers from Akerman Senterfitt, Joe Goldstein and Alan Krischer, who have represented many clients - including Beacon Lakes - as lobbyists with the county.

When population growth projections require more developable land, the county can either target more infill development, encourage redevelopment of brownfields and underutilized property, or move the boundary line, said Mark Woerner, chief of metropolitan planning for Miami-Dade County.

"Currently, our projections are that we have a supply to last to 2021," he said. "Our comprehensive plan requires us to have at least a 15-year supply before we consider adding land to the boundary."

High-density development in areas like Miami - where more than 9,473 units are under construction and another 39,000 are proposed - increases the supply and allows the county to hold off on moving the boundary, he said.

The permitting process to build outside the county's western boundary can take up to two years, with hurdles ahead from federal, state and local regulators,.

Moving the line is "really more of a political decision," said John S. Zdanowicz, director of the Jerome Bain Real Estate Institute and a finance professor at Florida International University. "Do you declare a piece wetlands or don't you? Especially in South Florida, all political decisions generally are not made on rational economics, but based on political lobbying."

David Dabby, a Coral Gables-based real estate consultant, said: "What is really needed is a direction from the commission for finality in the line. To draw the line once and for all, and that's easier said than done."

Also eyeing the line is Atlantic Civil - a Miami company considering more than 6,000 units, shops, schools and a theater just south of Florida City - but a formal application has not been submitted, according to a spokeswoman with the Florida Department of Community Affairs, a state agency that reviews large-scale developments.

In October, developer Ed Easton led a group of investors in buying 813 acres outside the boundary south of the Providence proposal.

Easton said his group is "holding [the property] for investment at this time."

With the shortage of single-family home sites in Miami-Dade County, Easton said the line will likely be moved.

Developments should not be allowed to "leapfrog" outside the boundary, he said. "It seems logical to

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I think they should extend the county lines.But i also think they should extend Miami's city lines, because Miami is portrayed as a small city,which it shouldnt happen because Miami can be big,it just isnt.

I also agree Urban Legend,we should start building up in Miami,build 90 story buildings.Hopefully,I might see one like the Empire State building in Miami before I die.

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I just think that if people who collect data on the Miami area didn't only count the City, we'd all be better off... Our county is a metropolitan government by means of our Home Rule Charter, and the Florida Constitution gives the County every legal power a city has. So it operates two layers of government: county and city. There's no other government like it in the country.

I learned recently that Tokyo is a good international example... there is no "City of Tokyo", but rather there are 23 wards with their own municipal governments that make up "Tokyo prefecture", but it's actually called Tokyo Metropolitan Area, overseen by a centralized Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Yet most people don't have any trouble accepting or identifying that Tokyo is a large city.

Miami shouldn't be treated any differently. "Cities" are secondary governments in this county anyway. The County is where all the true power really is. City of Miami is basically a large jurisdiction of the metro among 33 other jurisdictions. It's also the area's namesake, and the fact that we identify so closely with it despite the many jurisdictions we live in speaks numbers. We market ourselves to the world as "Greater Miami and the Beaches" because of the power of one brand.

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