County commissioners unhappy with system for approving land plans
By Suzy Valentine
Thirteen plats got the nod from Miami-Dade County commissioners Tuesday amid expressions of dissatisfaction about the system and calls for review.
Commission Chairman Joe Martinez led the charge, arguing that it takes up to two years for land plans to make their way to county officials, often long after authorities have granted permits, developers have built properties and adjacent infrastructure has been found wanting.
Commissioner Katy Sorenson suggested that a workshop be staged to examine the shortcomings of the system, while Commissioner Natacha Seijas proposed that the Infrastructure and Land Use Committee she leads consider plats more expansively when it next meets Tuesday.
Of concern to Mr. Martinez were two Kendall Drive plats for retail where he fears the developments may overshadow adjacent amenities.
Paradise Lakes East at Southwest 88th Street and Southwest 167th Avenue incorporates a supermarket and auto and retail stores Mr. Martinez described as "already built," and the Kendaland Center at Southwest 88th Street and Southwest 162nd Avenue is under construction.
"There's no entrance to that place," he said of Paradise Lakes East. "People are going to have to come in through the main entrance where the buses are going now to do the turnaround. I wanted to make a requirement prior, and since I don't know what's coming until we get the plat and see the place being built, that's where I have the problem."
The Kendaland Center is to feature a big-box warehouse store, said Mr. Martinez, which will have a huge impact on traffic.
"I didn't know there was a BJ's Wholesale going in there," he said, "until they posted the sign. At 162nd Avenue and Kendall Drive, there are just two lanes."
Mr. Martinez said these were two examples of a flawed system.
"I'm getting fed up with things going up without the infrastructure in place," he said, citing an incident in which he said one developer promised to extend Southwest 40th Street by five blocks to accommodate increased traffic flow but never delivered. "What I want is the infrastructure in place first. We cannot get involved in zoning. I'm talking about changing it so developers can't do anything until the improvements are done."
It is time to overhaul the plat system, agreed Ms. Sorenson.
"I think plats need to be revisited," she said. "The problem is that once it gets here, it's over. We need to look at issues like connectivity, good urban design, to ensure that everything is planned well so that it works with everything else we're trying to do from a planning perspective. I would recommend that we have a workshop. This would be under the jurisdiction of Ms. Seijas, I believe."
Her colleague agreed to accommodate discussion of the topic at Tuesday's meeting.
"We do have an issue on our agenda in the next committee meeting that has to do with plats," said Ms. Seijas, "which, of course, if necessary could be extended to some of the points you were talking about."