Today, we celebrate a win — albeit a temporary one — for Biscayne Bay and the Greater Everglades.
Miami-Dade County commissioners voted Wednesday morning to defer an ill-conceived proposal to convert 800 acres of low-lying farmland in Homestead to a giant industrial complex.
For the second time in two weeks, developers peddling the South Dade Logistics & Technology District failed to secure enough votes to advance their environmentally irresponsible proposal. At their request, the project will return to the Miami-Dade County Commission for a final decision on Sept. 22.
Wednesday’s deferral is a huge credit to almost 1,300 Friends of the Everglades supporters who emailed Miami-Dade County commissioners, along with our allies within the Hold the Line Coalition who have debunked the developers’ claims of economic and environmental benefits.
While we would have preferred for the South Dade industrial complex to suffer a permanent defeat Wednesday, the setback is nonetheless a win for smart-growth advocates who believe in protecting the Urban Development Boundary. That’s all of us!
Please join us in thanking Commissioners Danielle Cohen Higgins, Rene Garcia, Eileen Higgins, Jean Monestime and Raquel Regalado for their “no” votes at the May 19 meeting.
Thanks, too, to Leonard Abess Jr., who owns about 160 acres within the 800-acre area. He bravely spoke out against the project at the May 19 meeting, despite the $100 million windfall he stands to gain if denser development is approved for the land.
Now, the onus is on all of us to help Miami-Dade stand firm to protect this 800 acres of green space. It sits on Coastal High Hazard Area, is within the footprint of lands being considered for the Biscayne Bay component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, and Miami-Dade County’s own planning staff has recommended denial.
We should not rest easy. It was clear Wednesday that several commissioners remain in favor of the proposal, which needs nine votes to advance. Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, in particular, has bent over backwards to accommodate the developers, as evidenced by her motion to allow deferral to Sept. 22.
When the South Dade boondoggle returns to the commission Sept. 22, it will remain the wrong project in the wrong place.