The Miami-Dade Planning Advisory Board unanimously rejected the Green City development’s application Monday to build beyond the urban development boundary.
Green City is a proposed development of over 11,000 residences and 3.5 million square feet of retail and public service space in West Kendall. In order to build, the developers would have first needed approval to extend past the urban development boundary, and to change the land’s zoning from agricultural to residential.
The urban development boundary is designed to keep urban sprawl from overtaking natural areas. Although outside the UDB, the Green City plans are within the urban expansion area, which is the land prioritized for development if the UDB must be expanded.
Celeste de Palma, Everglades policy associate with Audubon Florida, argued that building outside of the urban development line encroaches on the Everglades, and could be potentially harmful to the environment.
“We’re paying billions of dollars to do Everglades restoration because it would make this county, and actually this region, more resilient to sea level rise,” explained de Palma.
Denying the application “would ensure that our main economic asset, which is our environment, stays protected for longer,” she added.
Tropical Audubon Society submitted a letter signed by 30 community and environmental groups to the Planning Advisory Board in opposition to the UDB expansion.
Supporters of Green City argued that population growth necessitates building beyond the UDB.
Ann Pope, a consultant for Green City, asserted that the development could be done sustainably, and would encourage people to walk rather than drive. Pope said the West Kendall area is severely lacking employment opportunities and entertainment options for residents.
“We have no downtown, no real job centers, no sense of place, and no real identity,” Pope said.
About 30 West Kendall residents attended the meeting -- some advocating for the development, some in opposition.
Julie Dick, Everglades Law Center attorney representing Tropical Audubon Society, said there is already enough land within the UDB to meet residential and commercial needs, and that “increasing urban sprawl is a real risk.”
Dick cited threats to water supply and endangered species living in the area, as well as concerns about worsening traffic congestion.
The Green City application would also change how frequently the UDB is expanded.
Garett Rowe, board member and planning supervisor at the Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources, said this change would “create a perpetual need for UDB expansions.”
Rowe spoke in accordance with the staff recommendation to deny the application, stating that there is currently enough land within the UDB to accommodate growth, and the Green City application does not provide enough information on how to meet residents’ transportation and public service needs.
The Planning Advisory Board voted unanimously to deny the Green City application, and to not pass it on to the Board of County Commissioners.