Residents and a developer will get another month to iron out their differences over a planned warehouse district on the site of the former Westview Country Club, in central Miami-Dade.
The proposed warehouse district was part of a robust agenda for the Miami-Dade Commission meeting Thursday. Commissioners moved through it fairly quickly by deferring several big-ticket items without any public input.
Their decision to defer the Westview Country Club item for a second time came despite seven months of frosty negotiations between developer Rosal Westview and residents of the neighborhood.
At issue is whether to allow a zoning change to industrial from residential, for a proposed walled compound that would house a 1.2 million-square-foot warehouse and distribution center filled with goods, trucks and commercial outlets. Most of it would be built less than 100 feet from homes in one of the oldest established communities in the county.
The developer says the compound would create 3,600 well-paid jobs and act as a much-needed economic engine, particularly in the central Miami-Dade district starved for new commerce. Westview homeowners, however, are concerned about noise and pollution.
The commission also shied away from another important vote Thursday.
At Commissioner Barbara Jordan’s request, the board deferred voting on her proposal to make it easier for the commission to prohibit the privatization of clinical services, other than to an academic partner such as a university, at cash-starved Jackson Memorial Hospital. On Tuesday, Jackson announced that nine bidders were interested in taking over services in the emergency room. Jackson academic partner the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine was one of the bidders.
Jordan’s measure would make it easier for commissioners to override previous action taken by the hospital’s board, which allowed for bids from private entities. Jackson Chief Executive Carlos Migoya has warned that privatizing services could lead to even more trouble for the public hospital, but Jordan has remained skeptical.
The commission did make some decisions Thursday. It approved a $313 million deal to purchase 136 new Metrorail cars from Italian firm AnsaldoBreda.
Yet most of the discussion on the Metrorail cars centered another topic: The controversial purchase of a $25 million test track that could accompany the deal in an upcoming vote. Some commissioners opposed spending the money, saying the existing rail lines can be used for testing. The county currently tests its railcars on those tracks overnight.
The commission also passed on first reading a proposal by Commissioner Javier Souto to prevent annexation proponents from cherry-picking valuable properties in unincorporated Miami-Dade while excluding adjacent residential areas in order to avoid a referendum vote by those residents.