Miami-Dade County

Commercial projects in west Miami-Dade rejected

Miami-Dade commissioners on Wednesday unanimously rejected allowing a commercial center to be built in the rural suburbs known as “Horse Country,” and also voted down a request to expand the county’s urban development zone.

Convening to consider reworking the county’s master-development plan, commissioners voted down changes that would have allowed about 10 acres of pasture land to become a shopping center in West Kendall.

The proposal packed the commission chambers with spectators wearing the color-coded attire of the debate: the pro side in red with the slogan “Every Neighbor Matters,” and the con side in yellow “Horse Country” shirts.

Lawyers for the developers wanted the land’s agriculture designation changed to “business and office.” They argued the switch would bring needed retail options to the area and ease the burden on residents forced to drive long distances for groceries and other shopping. “All they seek is a better quality of life for their families,” Juan Mayol, lawyer for developer Southeast Investments, said of supporters in the chambers.

Opponents, including residents near the property at Southwest 127th Avenue and 56th Street, said the development would ruin Horse Country’s agrarian identity.

“We can do plenty of shopping online,” said Gabriel Miguel, whose parents live in the area. “We haven’t figured out how to ride a horse online.”

Commissioner Javier Souto, who represents the area, said he sent letters to residents seeking feedback and received far more responses from opponents than from supporters. “I take care of my people,” he said, before moving to accept the county planning department’s rejection of the proposed change. “I take care of my voters.”

Commissioners also voted 8-2 to reject a proposal for Green City, an 860-acre residential and commercial development designed to create a self-contained neighborhood in the far reaches of West Kendall. Also opposed by the county planning staff, building the project would have required moving the construction frontier known as the Urban Development Boundary.

“We’ve got 850 acres of active agricultural land. And it would be lost,” Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava said before voting to deny the Green City application. Commissioners Esteban “Steve” Bovo and Jose “Pepe” Diaz voted against the denial.

Commissioners delayed until Dec. 7 a vote on a smaller project also seeking to expand the UDB to the west.