Homestead - South Dade

Petition to pressure Homestead council circulates; golf course still in limbo

Wayne Rosen isn’t giving up.

The prominent developer, whose latest housing project isn’t getting traction on the Homestead City Council’s dais, is taking matters into his own hands.

With hopes of pressuring council members, residents of Keys Gate subdivisions are backing Rosen by way of an online petition.

On the table? Having the council overturn a decision made by Homestead’s planning and zoning board and allow him to go forward on rezonings to build single-family homes near a beer warehouse, speedway and airbase. In exchange, Rosen would pledge to renovate the rundown Keys Gate Golf and Country Club.

“I learned Friday evening that Mr. Rosen has withdrawn his application for zone variances that he had submitted to the city of Homestead,” said Keys Gate delegate Ted Moscynski Jr. in an email to his neighbors. Rosen, who had the item on an upcoming City Council agenda, pulled out after a Miami Herald article was published and the council was not happy.

“He believes he has only three votes, which is not enough for passage of his request,” Moscynski Jr. added, asking residents to target and contact council members who have shown opposition to Rosen’s proposal.

So far, the petition — calling on the council to approve all of Rosen’s rezoning requests — has gathered 489 names, nearly half of the goal of 1,000. It’s unclear whether all who have signed are Homestead residents.

“Just do it,” said resident Dan Bard, who signed. The online petition asserts that upon the council’s OK, homeowners will in exchange get “a championship golf course” that will spur new jobs, tourism, and increase property values.

Last month, Rosen promised the Keys Gate community he would at last improve the golf course — a shuttered, overgrown expanse he owns in the city’s southeast section. That promise came two months after he angrily vowed to let the golf course “go brown.”

That vow surfaced after Rosen endured a measure of ridicule after a news article reported that he had asked Homestead for $3.5 million in federal anti-poverty dollars to improve the country club. And that the City Council had given its OK.

That story in the Miami Herald led to blistering blog items and a critical piece on The Daily Beast website about well-to-do people using public money meant for the poor. Rosen said his young daughter read the items and asked him why he was doing that. Stung by the criticism, the developer told the city to keep its money — which would have come in the form of a low-interest loan.

Two months later, Rosen was back and promising to fix up the golf course after all. But the the promise came with a condition—that the council overturn a decision made by Homestead’s planning and zoning board. Rosen’s plan calls for:

▪  Taking about 11.4 acres off the perimeter of the course and using the land to extend the backyards of surrounding homes that would soon be built. The rezoning would also allow for more homes. Jim Fazio, the designer who would potentially be rehabilitating the course, says the extra acres aren’t needed for the golf course redesign and that using them that way would be “a waste of land.”

▪  Rezoning about 20-plus acres in the Park of Commerce, just east of Kingman Road and south of Canal Drive. That land is adjacent to a Budweiser warehouse and less than a mile from the hazard zones of the Homestead Air Reserve Base and the Homestead Speedway.

Right now, the land is zoned as “industrial.” Rosen wants it rezoned to “mixed-use,” which would allow for a blend of commercial and residential buildings, although Rosen has suggested making it all single-family homes.

Across the street from the Budweiser warehouse lie 36 acres that are currently zoned for school use. Miami Arts Charter School occupies nine of those acres. Rosen is asking to change the remaining 27 acres to mixed-use.

The online petition asserts that upon the council’s OK, homeowners will in exchange get “a championship golf course” that will spur new jobs, tourism, and increase property values.

Rather than tap the city’s $3.5 million in community development block grant money, Rosen said the $12 million needed to revamp the Keys Gate Golf and Country Club at 2300 Palm Dr. would come from his and his brother’s pockets.

Councilman Jon Burgess said proposals “should come in as individual requests, not as this one big ball of yarn that’s being unraveled.

“One at a time,” Burgess said. “The golf course shouldn’t even be a question in this, it should be a completely separate matter. That’s not proper, to put the threat on the people like that. I have issues with that.”

Councilwoman Patricia Fairclough said she was in favor of Rosen’s proposal because it would result in a renovated golf course.

“There are a lot of benefits of bringing it back,” she said. “I will do everything that I can to support the golf course coming to the City of Homestead. I think we have to come to a consensus with [Rosen’s proposal]. I’m sure if we work together, there will be a potential path for it.”

The item will be up for discussion on Wednesday, March 16.

Monique O. Madan: 305-376-2108, @MoniqueOMadan

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