A Miami Lakes lawmaker seeking to shield the town from development in nearby unincorporated areas, is proposing to annex commercial properties to control the zoning and add revenues to the town’s tax base.
The areas Councilmember Nelson Rodriguez is targeting are near Opa-locka Airport and north of the Palmetto Expressway from Ludlum Road (N.W. 67 Avenue) east to N.W. 57 Avenue.
At the February 7 Town Council meeting, lawmakers approved Rodriguez’s plan to first consult with Miami-Dade County to determine if adding the commercial areas which do not include residential homes and apartments is possible.
If so, town staff would study the pros and cons of annexation for the area west of the airport and adjacent to N.W. 57 Avenue between 154 and 139 streets, and the commercial property north of the Palmetto Expressway.
According to the town’s charter, residents must approve any attempt to expand the town’s peripheries through a referendum before council members can take action.
“We would go to the county first and if it’s not possible, it dies right there,” Rodriguez said. “If so, we instruct town staff to conduct the research. These areas we are looking to annex are strictly commercial.”
Town Manager Alex Rey said the fiscal impact for a study is “low.”
Rodriguez said the annexation issue could go on the ballot in November 2018.
He said Miami Lakes has an opportunity to add the commercial areas to control the zoning in contrast to having no jurisdiction over the developments west of I-75 that are impacting the town such as traffic, among other issues.
In 2003, Miami Lakes rejected the idea of annexing the land, which at the time contained a huge landfill and was devoid of infrastructure. Hialeah eventually annexed the property.
Rodriguez said the town made a mistake by not annexing the property and he doesn’t want to travel down the same path.
“We missed the boat back then and I would hate to be caught in the same situation to the north and east of us,” Rodriguez said.
According to Miami-Dade County Annexation and Incorporation records, no other city is seeking to annex the area, which is near the western boundary of Miami Gardens.
Besides the annexation debate in 2003, a study was conducted several years ago to determine the impact if Miami Lakes was to annex Palm Springs North, an unincorporated community north of the town.
Lawmakers and residents rejected the proposal since the zoning regulations and code compliance issues were a complete contrast to Miami Lakes’ standards, and that led to Councilmember Frank Mingo’s charter amendment that voters must initially give lawmakers the green light to proceed with any annexation plans.
Albeit he supports annexation of the commercial areas, Mingo said he was concerned the county would offer the residential areas on Ludlum Road to the north, including The Moors.
“Will the county let us annex the area without the residential is my concern,” he said.
Two Miami Lakes residents sat on opposite sides of the annexation proposal.
Maria Kramer, who opposed the previous annexation proposals, sang a different tune. “I think it’s something we should consider,” she said.
However, Claudia Luces said otherwise. “I’m against it,” she said. “I don’t see the need to involve ourselves in this type of process.”
In other Town Council actions:
• Lawmakers gave their initial approval for an ordinance to place a six-month moratorium on establishing marijuana dispensing organizations and medical marijuana treatment centers within the town, in order to consider and weigh the changes to the town’s land development Code needed to suitably register and accommodate these centers within town boundaries.
• Council members gave their initial approval for an ordinance to place a six-month moratorium on the approval of permits to install telecommunication towers and equipment in the town’s public rights-of-way.
The abeyance gives town officials a chance to weigh the changes to the land development code needed to suitably accommodate the structures within the town’s boundaries, while complying with new state and federal laws allowing cellphone towers.
Council members approved a resolution to ask Miami-Dade County to reactivate the traffic light at the intersection of N.W. 79 Avenue and Miami Lakes Drive to improve traffic on N.W. 154 Street during morning peak traffic hours and school pick up times at Bob Graham Education Center.
• Council members approved a resolution to authorize the town manage to enter into a long term, three-year agreement with several community nonprofit organizations that offer programs and activities to benefit residents to use the town’s park facilities and community centers.
The organizations include the South Florida Council Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scout Council of Tropical Florida, Inc., and American Legion Post #144, for use of town park facilities for meetings and events.
• Lawmakers approved Councilmember Luis Collzao’s proposal to host a workshop to discuss the hiring of the next town manager. Town Manager Alex Rey is retiring next year following a 30-year career in government that started at Miami-Dade County. Rey has been the town manager for Miami Lakes from 2002 to 2008 and from 2009 to present.
• Lawmakers approved Nelson Rodriguez’s proposal to ask Miami-Dade County to add Miami Lakes to the name of Miami-Opa-Locka Executive Airport to get potential benefits from the new developments at the airport.
He initially wanted to change it to Miami Lakes-Opa Locka Executive Airport, but residents rejected the idea and any ties to Opa-locka since the tumultuous city is on the brink of insolvency and several officials were arrested on bribery and kickback charges.
Town officials prefer Miami Lakes Executive Airport instead.
Town officials first want to ask The Graham Companies, which created the brand, if it’s possible, and if so, take the proper steps with the county.
“Miami Lakes is the only full service city neighboring the airport that offers luxury and casual hotels, restaurants and shopping,” he said. “We also have a world class golf course.”
• Council members approved Collazo’s proposal to create a traffic advisory board through the town’s Public Safety Committee and Neighborhood Improvement Committee to discuss and come up with solutions for the traffic congestion.
• Council members approved Mayor Manny Cid’s request to move the April 4 meeting to April 18 due to a conflict with the town’s legislative priority advocacy in the State Legislature in Tallahassee.