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North Dade zoning board postpones action on new church

 

kkallergis@MiamiHerald.com

A Miami-Dade zoning board postponed deciding whether to approve plans for a new church in the Golden Glades area, after at least a dozen people came to the board’s meeting Thursday night in opposition to the project.

The Uleta Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses wants to build the 15,000-square-foot church and a three-unit apartment building on 23/4 acres at 14521 Memorial Hwy. in unincorporated North Miami-Dade, but residents were lined up, ready to speak out.

At the start of the meeting, about a dozen people had asked to speak against the church.

Church spokesman Randy Tobie asked the county’s North Central Community Council to postpone the hearing so that he and members of the church could address residents’ concerns.

“We got here early and noted there were quite a few with the homeowners’ association,” he said.

Elizabeth Jude, a Biscayne Gardens Civic Association board member, was one of the people opposed to the church. She’s lived in the area about 20 years.

“We don’t have problems with churches,” Jude said. “But it’s too big. You have two acres? I have 1.2 and I live there. How can this be compatible?”

Co-president of the civic association Anne Cates invited Tobie to the association’s meeting on Thursday.

June Ellis, who moved into the community 12 years ago, says her neighborhood is becoming “church row.” The church would be directly behind her backyard.

“They are decreasing the property value,” Ellis said. “They can buy my house.”

Ellis and Jude were also concerned about the increased traffic on Memorial Highway — which they said is poorly lit and has dangerous curves.

“They really and truly don’t understand Memorial Highway. It’s very dark and very dangerous,” Jude said.

Before the meeting, the county’s professional planning staff recommended that the Community Council approve the church but reject the three-unit apartment building.

The elected council deferred action on the church, and they will meet again to address the church at 7 p.m. on July 31 at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza, 2525 NW 62nd St.

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