The West Kendall question has arisen once again. Should the suburban sprawl of West Dade incorporate as a city?
A committee studying that possibility will hold its third public meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Kendale Lakes Branch Library, 15205 SW 88th St. The West Kendall Section 1 Municipal Advisory Committee (MAC) will hear a presentation from the county parks department and ethics commission this month.
Some skeptical residents shared their qualms about yet another incorporation push at last month’s meeting, as many expressed angst over a topic that has come up for decades but never led to cityhood. Others urged everyone to keep an open mind as the committee does its work.
The seven-person committee appointed by Miami-Dade County Commissioner Juan C. Zapata, the area’s representative and proponent of incorporation, emphasized that its work is to weigh the pros and cons of cityhood, listen to feedback from the community and eventually make a recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners.
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This new incorporation study came about after Zapata, who grew up in West Kendall, sponsored the creation of two MACs last summer to look at different areas of West Kendall after County Commissioners lifted a five-year moratorium on incorporation and annexation in 2012.
The Section 1 committee is looking at an area bounded by Southwest Eighth Street on the north, Southwest 187th Avenue to the west, Southwest 88th Street to the south and Southwest 147th Avenue to the east, with northern portions extending to Southwest 127th Avenue and Florida’s Turnpike.
Erika Gonzalez-Santamaria, a committee member, said she sees advantages to incorporation like better police patrolling and more local control over land use. But she said she’s keeping an open mind and wants all input, positive and negative, from the public.
“I want to work with the community and hope that the ultimate decision made is the right one for everyone,” she said.
Resident Carlos Delgado feels incorporation is a forced issue and hopes it does not happen.
“It’s going to be more taxes, more hassle, more red tape, more bureaucracy,” he said.
Others note the advantages but still worry about the possible tax increases.
A few residents at the last meeting and since have said they don’t necessarily oppose incorporation but would want to expand the area under consideration.
Realtor and West Kendall resident Winnie Smith said the county might want to consider studying a wider area, including Kendall east of the Palmetto Expressway, if it wants to make a new city. She said the current map doesn’t make much sense.
“I do not see this as being of benefit to us,” she said.
During incorporation efforts of the last 15 years before the moratorium, as in Doral, Palmetto Bay and Miami Gardens, the major selling points were more attention from local police and local control of development.
Depending on property values in the area, incorporation can lead to higher or lower property taxes. The county charges about $1.93 per $1,000 in taxable home value for municipal services — except for library and fire, which are the same in all places served by the county.
Wealth and property values make the difference after incorporation. Cutler Bay, which became a town in 2005, charges $2.57. Doral, a city formed in 2003, charges $1.92. Miami Gardens, formed the same year as Doral, charges $6.93.
A second municipal advisory committee that is still forming will study Section 3 (previously proposed Section 2 merged with Section 3), which stretches from Southwest 88th Street south to Southwest 152nd Street and from Southwest 137th Avenue to the Everglades, with a portion north of Southwest 104th Street extending east to Florida’s Turnpike.
Each committee has two years from its formation to complete its work and deliver a recommendation to the county. In the end, voters have the final say at the polls.