Commission clears 550 residences on disputed Calusa golf course

MIAMI – Opposition to plans to redevelop a golf course in Miami-Dade County prompted neighbors to launch the Save Calusa campaign. They hired a bus to attend a zoning meeting Wednesday in downtown Miami and saw commissioners vote 10-2 against their cause.

The Calusa Country Club closed about ten years ago. Opponents said the 577 trees in the lot are home to the Florida cap bat, great egrets, egrets, blue herons, tricolor herons, anhinga and a rare redhead. Ron Magill, a wildlife expert, attended the meeting.

“I don’t get paid to say a word or to be here … get the US Fish and Wildlife information from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission … You can buy consultants, you can buy good lawyers, you can’t buy wildlife after it’s dead, ”Magill told commissioners.

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At the end of last year, the commissioners lifted a clause that would have limited the use of the property to a golf course until 2067. Without this clause, the zoning allowed 30 new homes, but the developer wants more. hundreds, and the commissioners voted to allow it.

Kendall Associates I LLLP, a subsidiary of GL Homes, purchased the land at 9400 SW 130 Ave. for $ 32 million on February 16. The developer submitted a request on February 18 to build 550 single-family homes. In May, the developer’s arborist reported that 156 trees were not candidates for preservation and a subsequent county review disputed those findings, according to an Oct.7 memo.

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The developer hired an environmentalist as a consultant who wrote a letter to county regulators promising a plan to protect the bonnet bat, which has been an endangered species protected by the federal government since 2013, and advocates. wildlife reported roosting in trees. The developer’s plan includes a commitment to 22 acres of lakes with vegetation.

Save Calusa activists did not have it. Dressed in green, they were determined to block redevelopment plans, but 12 of 13 commissioners voted and 10 sided with the developer. Commissioners Sally A. Heyman and Joe A. Martinez were the two dissenting voices.

“Traffic is a major concern,” said Martinez, who represents the unincorporated areas of West Dade including Country Walk, Hammocks, Kendale Lakes, Bent Tree and Lakes of the Meadows.

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Commissioner Rebeca Sosa was not present at the meeting. Commissioner Raquel A. Regalado, who represents the district where the golf course is located, voted to authorize the 550 units. Other commissioners who ended the golf course community were Oliver G. Gilbert, III, Jean Monestime, Keon Hardemon, Eileen Higgins, Danielle Cohen Higgins, Kionne L. McGhee, Javier D. Souto, Jose “Pepe” Diaz , and René Garcia.

Amanda Prieto, an activist from the Calusa neighborhood, said their decision was disappointing. Members of the Save Calusa group said they knew it was a battle between David and Goliath between residents who loved living in a golf course community and a member of the powerful Bacardí rum family who saw a business opportunity. Prieto said many residents have signed secret deals not to oppose the developer’s plan.

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“It’s a sad reflection on the fact that money can spur people to make decisions for instant gratification that lead to long-term disaster,” said Magill.

Redevelopment plan

Plan proposed by the developer. (MDC)

Read the developer’s consultant letter

Read the DERM review note

Related company links

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