Sweetwater has amended its annexation plans to exclude a portion along Southwest Eighth Street.
On Monday, the City Commission unanimously approved a resolution to modify its application to the county seeking to annex a chunk of West Miami-Dade land, withdrawing the area along Southwest Eighth Street between 117th and 102 avenues.
The city is still interested in annexing Florida International University’s College of Engineering and Computing campus at 10555 W. Flagler St. Also, the city is interested in a piece of land on the north side of Flagler between 110th and 102nd avenues.
There areas the city seeks to annex are business and commercial, and do not have any residential neighborhoods.
Mayor Manny Maroño said the city had included the stretch of Eighth Street in part so Sweetwater could better regulate the proliferation of street vendors hawking their wares.
“We’ve had students and people cross Eighth Street and they have felt disrespected by street vendors,” he said. “They felt afraid that they
might attack them. They are concerned with it and residents are concerned that the image doesn’t look good.”
He said the city changed its plans once he got wind of possible plans to incorporate a city of Westchester.
“After we presented our application, I was advised Miami-Dade County Commissioner Javier Souto was trying to create the city of
Westchester, which goes up to Eighth Street and that’s a relief because we don’t have to deal with Eighth Street.”
In a phone interview, Souto said there isn’t a definite plan to create a city of Westchester, but the idea has been suggested by residents.
“We want to determine what the people want. What would happen is perhaps proceed with a poll if people in Westchester want to incorporate a city,” he said. “I believe that the people want their own city, but it’s up to them. If so, I support them.”
He added that the area is ready, but a study or survey would need to be conducted in order to proceed with the idea.
Late last year, Souto decried Sweetwater’s annexation proposal on Spanish-language radio as an invasion. He even filed county legislation that would essentially give commissioners veto power over annexations involving districts.
However, the mood has changed said Souto, who he said spoke to Maroño recently.
“We spoke and it was a good conversation,” he said. “We decided that we have to speak about this. We don’t want to hurt each other since we are in the same territory.“
Sweetwater has already expanded. In 2010, the city annexed areas roughly bounded by Northwest Seventh and 25th streets, 107th Avenue and Florida’s Turnpike extension.
Maroño said the city is eyeing the Florida International University College of Engineering and Computing campus.
“We want to be a university city,” he said. “We are creating housing that’s coming up for students. Its just that we want to say we have
an FIU campus in the city. It’s for marketing purposes. It’s because we are a part of FIU.”
Plans are in place for a 15-story student dorm building with roughly 180 residential units, plus first-floor retail, on Southwest Seventh Terrace and 109th Avenue .
County commissioners could review the city’s annexation application sometime this month, said the mayor.