Currently viewing the category: "Urban Development Boundary"

 

FYI, here is some information on an issue that Transit Miami has covered in the past.

The contract for the widening of SW 157th Ave. from SW 184 St. to SW 152 St., an unneeded development on the Urban Development Boundary, is surely going to be approved at the meetings July 17 of the CITT Project and Financial Review Committee (4 p.m. 10th Floor CITT Conference Room, 111 NW 1 Street) and of the full CITT (6 p.m., Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners’ Chambers).

Tomorrow, in the citizens’ comment time of the Project and Financial Review Committee, I intend to raise questions related to the Urban Development Boundary and environmental issues.

Once again the supporting documents for this contract make no mention that the entire road segment in question is bordered on its western side by the UDB and agricultural land.

However, while the current road is within the UDB, a portion of the expanded road will be outside to the west of the current UDB.  Does all this intended construction outside the UDB require special legal approval to move the UDB westward or to permit this intrusion within the area projected by the UDB?

Are there any plans to mitigate the environmental impact of the construction and of the completed widened road?

And a third question: If the contractor needs new hiring, will the contractor be complying with the Miami-Dade First Source Ordinance requiring receipt and consideration of qualified applications provided by South Florida Workforce?

 

Sincerely,

Theodore Wilde, former CITT member

 

Three Easy ways to register

Online: http://seflorida.uli.org (Credit card payment only.)

Phone: 800-321-5011 (Credit card or check) Fax: 800-248-4585 (Credit card or check)

 

We need your help now to protect the Everglades.

Miami-Dade Expressway Authority is planning to expand the 836 Dolphin Expressway west toward Krome Avenue and then south to Tamiami Airport. This project would accelerate westward development, threaten agriculture, and threaten Everglades restoration.

Please email written comments to tgarcia@mdxway.com by this Friday, January 27, 2012.

Here’s a sample comment to cut and paste or put in your own words.

I ask the MDX board to remove the 836/Dolphin Expressway Southwest Extension (project 83618) from its 5-year plan. I question the necessity of the this project and am concerned about the impacts to residents, agriculture and America’s Everglades.

I believe this road is unnecessary and will actually will increase, not alleviate, congestion on SR 836. Commuters currently have the option of taking several highways into downtown Miami. The existing 836, the Florida Turnpike, the 874, the 878 and the 826. Most of these roads have been or are currently being rebuilt to handle greater capacity. Future and existing toll revenues should be used to maintain these roads and provide for public transit alternatives, not to build new roads into environmentally sensitive areas.

The project will threaten Everglades National Park and nearby federally-protected wetlands. A new layer of highway extending away from the city will fuel sprawl because of its proximity to the Urban Development Boundary. This highway would attract development of agricultural and wild lands buffering the Everglades and pose a direct threat to the $12 billion federal-state Everglades restoration project.

Name
Adrress
Phone number
Email

Tell MDX that this project will waste natural resources and exacerbate sprawl and traffic.

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Whoever said, “the more things change, the more they stay the same” probably had the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners in mind. As if the recent real estate market crash was not enough of a wakeup call for our elected leaders, commissioners recently voted to expand the Urban Development Boundary – the line that separates agricultural and environmentally sensitive land from urbanized areas – for a 9.9 acre commercial development that adds to the existing stock of vacant and undeveloped land in Miami-Dade County. Apparently, some county commissioners didn’t get the memo that their love for suburban sprawl over the past decade led to the real estate market tanking, and to the bloated county government that they now seek to reign-in.

The transportation connection: UDB expansions are being closely coordinated with an upcoming massive highway expansion along the western border of the county being proposed by MDX. The pink box in the middle titled 'Ferro' is the subject of this latest application. Thanks to Genius of Despair for the image.

They must have overlooked the 2010 EPA report, “Growing for a Sustainable Future” that described an inventory of 16,140 acres of undeveloped land within the boundary. That amounts to 6% of the land within the urbanized area of Miami-Dade County – currently vacant. With so much land within the boundary unused why are commissioners adding more land to existing capacity? Is it that they want to further depress land values and our economic recovery?  Some cite the need for jobs – oh jobs! The latest excuse for any project to be shoved down our collective throats is the promise of jobs. Want jobs? Here’s a stadium. Jobs you say? How about a humongous resort casino?

But, when it comes to the UDB amnesia sets in about the 16,140 acres of empty land within the UDB waiting for development.  Let’s put this in perspective– 16,140 acres is approximately 25 square miles. The island of Manhattan – from Battery City Park to 218 street – is only 22.96 square miles. I would say that we have more than enough development capacity to last the next 100 years and beyond without having to touch the UDB – and that’s just with our undeveloped land. Take into account underdeveloped land and we should never expand the UDB again.

Critics argue that the line was never meant to be a solid boundary – but a flexible delineation between the reach of county services and the agricultural and environmental lands beyond. There may be 16,000 acres of undeveloped land in the city– but what about the residents of this suburban neighborhood? Don’t they deserve access to strip malls and warehouses and outparcels within close proximity? What if they need closer services? This particular property is already surrounded by developed residential land – what is 9 more acres of commercial land? Attorney for the project Miguel Diaz de la Portilla said, “You’re not talking about some land that’s out in the middle of nowhere. It’s contiguous with the UDB.” Of course this argument ignores an undeveloped 40 acre tract designated for commercial development, currently within the UDB, as well as the existing Hammocks mall, both within ½ mile of this site and with enough commercial capacity to serve the surrounding community for the next 30 years.

Commissioners might argue that they shouldn’t dictate where development happens. If a willing developer wants to build a Publix on what is currently farmland – so be it. Except they overlook the fact that in expanding the extent of county services, they put us all on the hook to provide those new areas with infrastructure, police, and life safety services. That single story Publix surrounded by a parking lot uses the same services as the 8-story mixed-use building in the urban core – only it provides a fraction of the tax base forcing commissioners to make a choice between two evils: reduce services for the rest of the county, or raise tax rates.

Last week County Commissioner Xavier Suarez wrote a column for the Huffington Post that critiqued Mayor Gimenez’ latest county budget saying that “absolutely nothing changed in the way the county does business.” The same day that column was published he voted to expand the UDB for an application that has been repeatedly criticized as unnecessary, and for which the County’s own professional planning department recommended denial because of the reasons noted above. Our leaders cannot simultaneously seek to reduce the bloated bureaucracy of county government and at the same time expand the extent of the county services. If Suarez and other commissioners want to break the business as usual attitude in county hall they should start with the UDB.  The application has to come back to the commission for a final vote in the spring – let’s hope commissioners come to their senses and hold the line – indefinitely.

 

County Commissioners are on a mission – a mission to restore some of the ‘power’ that was stripped from them during the 2007 Strong Mayor Referendum. Commissioners have been discussing a ballot measure that would help restore some of the power taken from them nearly three years ago. While the current Mayor has done little with his new power (except build us a useless new baseball stadium), they have not done anything in the last three years to suggests that they deserve their power back.  Not only do they refuse to reform the PTP and implement real transit expansion, they were equally complicit in the “Global Agreement” that led to the Stadium (and Tunnel) as Mayor Alvarez . Their consistent inability to make informed decisions for the long-term well being of this community makes them the last group to give more power to. (We should be taking more responsibilities away from them, not restoring them!)

Case in point: the endless developer funded drama to expand the UDB and ignore smart planning. The latest round of Comprehensive Plan applications are coming around for final approval. Interesting to note is the application to move the UDB to accommodate office space – an application consistently denied by the County’s own professional planning staff (staff which are paid for by taxpayer dollars).

Commissioners: Why should we give you any more power when you don’t even listen to the professional planning staff that you employ to advise you on good policy. Not only is this unwarranted expansion bad planning, it goes against our own comprehensive growth laws. Our CDMP lays out the requirements that govern expansion (setting a very low bar to begin with). This application, by the planning departments recommendation, does not even meet the minimum threshold for appropriate expansion. So why the big push  for expansion? Who are you representing – the citizen’s interests or your own?

I for one will not vote to give any power to the commission until they show themselves to be true public servants. Vote to deny this application.

  • Today the County discussed today ending the costly and moronic appeals of the last round of UDB lawsuits (brought on by the State’s rejection of the expansion). Katy Sorenson, always the voice of reason, sought a motion to end the appeals, but was shut down by Chairman Moss. Katy will now be proposing a resolution (at a subsequent meeting)  to end the appeals. I hope she is successful. Why they are continuing to spend money we don’t have on this (while cutting important services) is beyond me. Kudos to Mayor Alvarez and the members of the commission who see this as a waste of time and resources. Sigh.
  • The tentative date for the yearly Transit Summit is November 18th, from 5-8 pm.  Ysela Llort described the format of the meeting as one where we discuss “living within our means.” I’m skeptical of what will come out of this meeting given the content of the recent Transit Development 10 year plan. (More on this in a separate post).
  • Warren Buffet is making a big bet on the future of rail in the US, expanding his rail holdings of Burlington Northern Santa Fe. (NYTimes)
  • I heart Katy: The MPO approved a resolution sponsored by Katy Sorenson that requires ghg’s to be taken into account when preparing transportation planning assessments. “The MPO is responsible for planning our transportation system county-wide, and the choices we make now will be felt for generations,” said Commissioner Sorenson.  “Factoring carbon emissions into the choices the MPO Board must consider in weighing mass transit and road projects is a good first step toward a sustainable transportation system for our County.” (County)
  • Awesome: 119 Acres are being added to the South Dade Wetlands Project through the EEL Program (total land saved so far: 19,577 acres).

This week visitors from the EPA Smart Growth office joined the UDB/Hold the line fray as self described ‘outside observers’. They were invited by the County commission, and boy do they have their work cut out for them.

Thursday’s workshop was a mini battle royale, with the developer/attorney camp led by sprawl advocate Jeffrey Bercow pitted against the smart growth crowd. The speakers from the EPA began their talk by saying that they didn’t come with any preconceived notions, but the fact that they represent a ‘smart growth’ office means that they should begin by making it clear that they support smart growth policies, containing growth within a growth boundary and supporting infill. They made no such claims, only to ask us what we wanted from our UDB. For the record the UDB should: encourage infill, encourage agriculture, provide a buffer between development and the everglades, and discourage sprawl.

Several speakers made excellent points on the smart growth side, while only one speaker came out in favor of sprawl and for moving the line, Jeffrey Bercow (and friend Truly Burton who gave her time for his powerpoint presentation). His points were mostly about how we need sprawl. He cited economic reasons (without flexibility in moving the line housing prices will rise), while also saying that most people don’t want to live in dense, skyscrapers (his narrow definition of infill). I pointed out that that was a result of obsolete, auto-centric zoning codes that prohibit walkable, intermediate building types – not a lack of demand on the side of the market. (A point reiterated by this recent study by Todd Litman about the demand for smart growth housing.)

My biggest suggestion to our friends from the EPA deals with the amount of available land within the line. Available supply within the UDB should be calculated taking into account capacity along ALL corridors, not just within 1/4 mile of rail transit stops. This is the only way of taking into account the real infill capacity within the line, and would extend the horizon of available infill land within the UDB well past the time frame required by the Planning Department.

I could go into Bercow’s presentation, but without the visuals you won’t see how ridiculous it actually was. One point he made that I can’t let slip by was to make the case for sprawl by arguing that jobs centers were too far away, requiring further expansion of the line. Uhhh, what? Yeah, he actually said that. Wonders never cease. He (and Truly) also complained of NIMBY problems when trying to support infill development (definitely a problem), while failing to mention how they are both against the most important infill project in the country: Miami 21. Seems like the only thing they really believe in is whatever their clients pay them to believe in.

Transit Miami friend, and manager of urban planning for the DDA Javier Betancourt said it best in his June 2009 letter to the Miami Herald.

By focusing our collective efforts on revitalizing and expanding existing communities through infill development, we will make better use of our land supply, reduce congestion and preserve our region’s valuable natural resources. At the same time, we will realize a number of economic and urban planning benefits, including better connectivity between businesses and the labor force, more efficient use of our existing infrastructure and across-the-board increases in property values.

For you ‘Hold the Line’ advocates, come down to the Main Library Auditorium this Thursday to let the EPA know what you think of the UDB policy in Dade County. They are here (at the invitation of the Commission) to review the policy and provide comments on how to encourage smart growth and infill development. Don’t miss this opportunity – the next round of UDB battles will be soon upon us, and we need all the ammo we can get!

Workshop for Analysis of Miami-Dade County’s Growth Management Policies
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program

Thursday, October 15, 2009
Miami-Dade County Main Library, Auditorium
101 West Flagler Street, Miami, FL 33130
2:00 – 5:00 p.m. Open Public Session facilitated by Kevin Nelson (EPA)
The purpose of this Session is to gather comments from the public and all other interested parties.

Friday, October 16, 2009
Board of County Commissioners Chamber
111 NW 1st Street, 2nd Floor, Miami, Fl 33128
8:30 – 10:00 a.m. Experts present preliminary findings/research approach for urban development boundary
10:00 -10:30 a.m. Break
10:30 -12:00 p.m. Experts present preliminary findings/research approach for infill policies
12:00 – 2:00 p.m. Lunch Break
2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Concluding session with summary and next steps
3:00 – 4:00 p.m. Public comments/Adjournment

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I had to post the complete text of this great editorial by DDA Urban Planning Manager Javier Betancourt:

Last month’s court ruling halting the planned development of a Lowes superstore outside Miami-Dade County’s Urban Development Boundary was an important victory in the ongoing battle against westward sprawl in our community. But the more pressing issue going forward is whether residential development outside the boundary should proceed.

The answer to this question is a resounding “No.”

Now that new commercial development on the fringe of the Everglades has been rejected, urban planners along with developers and business and civic leaders should turn their attention to the chief challenge facing Miami-Dade: how to create a sustainable community without expanding our geographic footprint.

By focusing our collective efforts on revitalizing and expanding existing communities through infill development, we will make better use of our land supply, reduce congestion and preserve our region’s valuable natural resources. At the same time, we will realize a number of economic and urban planning benefits, including better connectivity between businesses and the labor force, more efficient use of our existing infrastructure and across-the-board increases in property values.

Miami was planned and developed after the advent of the automobile, so sprawl became a way of life in South Florida. Only now we are witnessing a reversal of this trend, as residents and businesses inject new life into urban centers that were long overlooked.

Some of the most desirable neighborhoods in Miami-Dade County — Downtown Miami, Coral Gables, South Miami, Miami Lakes and Downtown Dadeland, to name a few — have been home to condensed growth that combines residential, commercial and retail development. Each of these communities offers opportunities for continued investment, and each is taking shape within the confines of the UDB.

Nowhere have the benefits of infill development been more evident than in Downtown Miami, home to our state’s largest employment center, an existing public transit system and commercial base, and a population that has grown by more than 50 percent since 2000.

The mixed-use development that has taken shape in our urban core has accelerated Downtown Miami’s evolution as a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly district. New businesses are opening, people are moving in, cultural and entertainment institutions are thriving, and street activity is picking up after hours. These trends speak to a growing demand for the convenience and lifestyle offered by urban communities and to a dramatic shift away from sprawl.

The court’s decision in May supported the need for sustainable growth. Now the business and civic communities need to act by advocating against expanding the UDB and evaluating how to maximize our investments in the emerging urban centers within the boundary.

PS. This was posted in the business section.

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Miami transit/livable city advocates may be interested in attending The Miami-Dade Urban Environment League’s  “Hold the Line” (as in Urban Growth Boundary line) picnic Sunday at Crandon Park.

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In yet another instance of wasted transit surtax dollars, the CITT voted yesterday to acquire land directly adjacent to the UDB in order to turn SW 157 avenue into a high-speed four lane urban highway. Too bad, this just gives opponents of the surtax more fuel to send it back to voters. Several more votes will be required to allocate funds for the construction of the road, so there is still time to contact your commissioner and let them know that the surtax should not be used on roadway expansion.

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To CITT Members

From Ted Wilde, former CITT member 2003-07, Chair of Project and Financial Review

Re: May 28 CITT item to acquire land for widening SW 157 Ave. would be a poor use of scarce surtax funds

Summary. On April 16 the Project and Financial Review Committee split 2-2 on the resolution to acquire 15 properties for adding two lanes to SW 157 Ave. from SW 152 St. to SW 184 St. so the resolution is to be presented “without recommendation” to the May 28 full CITT. The CITT can reject this unnecessary project that will lead to misusing $13.2 million of surtax funds for road construction on the Urban Development Boundary. Supporters of the project state that SW 157 Ave. needs to connect to SW 184 St. Fine, it already connects completely; traffic on this road flows freely throughout the day, including during rush hours.

CITT can envision better alternatives. In the current severe reduction of government funds and of the transit projects in the People’s Transportation Plan [PTP], the CITT can preserve funds for projects directly serving transit users. Last year, Miami-Dade Transit applied rigorous cost-benefit criteria to cut back bus routes and frequencies. Doubling of the number of lanes of this part of SW 157 Ave. could not pass a cost-benefit analysis. Acquiring these 15 parcels is certainly not “a Public Necessity.”

In the face of all the transit cutbacks, the County Administration continues to seek completion of all PTP road and street projects proposed by County Commissioners. This is an insult to the citizens and also to Commissioners, as if they were so inflexible that they could not accept changes in 2009 to projects they proposed in 2002.

Funds the CITT saves now can be redirected later for future modest-cost transit efforts like bus rapid transit.

The County omitted essential information for an informed CITT decision. The documentation presented to CITT members before the Project and Financial Review meeting was highly deficient. It did not inform the CITT that the entire length of the proposed construction is on the Urban Development Boundary. The whole west side of this road segment is agricultural land; only the east side has mainly residential development. This part of SW 157 Ave with one side without residences will not generate the level of traffic of the road to the north where both sides are developed.

The previous documentation does not explain that the payments for land acquisition (cost not estimated), the $1.155 million for H & J Asphalt, and $228,228 for FP&L are only the start. A few years ago, total land and construction costs were projected at $13.2 million, a 35 % increase from the original projection of $9.75 million.

The documentation does not give the results of the traffic count on May 17, 2006, which showed that even in peak morning and afternoon rush hours, the traffic level never reached more than 55 % of “LOS 3,” the Level of Service of “stable flow,” which is the usual target for urban highways. An updated traffic count this year would be useful.

History of this project. The original engineering study for this project was voted down by the CITT in May 2006. It was reconsidered and passed in June 2006 (without having being placed on the published agenda).

Visit the site. Useful preparation for making a decision on this proposal is to visit the site during morning or afternoon rush hour. I visited the site on Thursday, April 2, 2009, at 7:58 a.m. In the 2006 traffic study, 8:00-8:30 a.m. was the peak of the rush hour. Starting on SW 157 Ave. at SW 184 St., I drove north to SW 152 St., back south the whole way, back north, south, and north again, 5 complete trips of the 2.3 mile route. I drove easily at 41 mph (speed limit 40), stopping at the two stop signs along the way. There is also a stop sign at SW 184 St., and the traffic light at SW 152 St.  At each end, I had to make a u-turn. Total time for the 5 trips and 4 u-turns was 24 minutes. Commuter drivers elsewhere in Miami-Dade would be fortunate to have such an easy ride.

The CITT will be holding a vote tonight on the proposed widening of SW 157 Avenue from 152 street to 184 street.  Currently a two lane road, 157 avenue is adjacent to the UDB, and will be converted into a higher speed four lane collector. This is yet another colossal waste of taxpayer dollars (to the tune of $13.2 million), and a great example of how the transportation tax has been wasted on projects that exacerbate our traffic problems, while not addressing our defunct transit system. Keep in mind that this road is close to Lennar’s proposed Parkland development (on 152 Street) and will surely come into play once the UDB battle ramps up again.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. at the Stephen P. Clark County Center, 111 NW 1st St. Please come out and let the members of the CITT know that road widening next to the UDB is a BAD idea and not what the transit tax is for!

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  • The South Dade Coalition is fighting FPL’s plans for transmission lines down US1 as these would keep the corridor from developing into the mixed-use, walkable place they seek. Good job guys.
  • Coral Gables is extending its trolley down ponce from 8th street to Flagler using FDOT dollars for the first year.
  • Dade and Broward Counties are getting express buses to run on I95 and the turnpike, linking Downtown Miami and Downtown Ft. Lauderdale and the ‘burbs. Yay! The routes are being funded by the State of Florida and the Federal government – no MDT money, also good.
  • A State Judge has said that the County’s decision to move the UDB was illegal. This is going to have big implications for the upcoming vote on Parkland.
  • No word on the Miami 21 vote yet from the City of Miami. Jeez.
  • More on taking the CITT back to voters from State Rep. Carlos Lopez Cantera: “Unless the county commission reaches some sort of an accord, I’m going to explore legislation to call for a vote of the voters again. It should be up to the voters to decide, and let them judge if they’re satisfied with the way the money has been handled.” From Miami Today.
  • The Virginia Key Masterplan is going to be presented on May 20 at the Miami Museum of Science, 3820 South Miami Ave, from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. This is in anticipation of its consideration by the City Commission in June. If you are interested, please attend.

According to this Miami Herald article, the Kendall Federation of Homeowners Associations is coming up mute on Lennar’s proposed Parkland Development, a 931-acre 7,000 home sprawlburg that requires yet another adjustment of Miami-Dade’s urban growth boundary. Perhaps the members of this Federation cannot bring themselves to be hypocrites. That is, the boundary was once moved for where they presently live. That, or like the Herald says, it is just plain apathy.

KFHA apathy notwithstanding, it seems the project is one step closer to coming to fruition, as the Miami-Dade Miami-Dade County Planning Advisory Board voted 7-3 today to recommend that commissioners move the urban development boundary further west.

Really?!

Apparently these “advisors” want more sprawl.

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