While Kendall decries a continuing loss of its vegetable “pick-em” fields, Miami-Dade County commissioners secured 152 acres for agricultural use for nine years at Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport it was announced Mar. 5.
“We have over 600 acres being used for farming on airport land throughout Miami- Dade,” said Greg Owens, division director of Real Estate for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department.
Asked if the new acreage meant more strawberries, Owens replied: “Actually, that particular land is farmed for a crop of Cuban potatoes.”
The commission action had the underlying purpose of securing additional revenue from unused airport acreages under control of the Aviation Department.
New zoning was approved by West Kendall Community Council 11 on Nov. 20, that places the airport’s entire 1,389 acres in a “General Property” category that includes varied government uses.
The department also is clearing a path for a major new commercial development on acreage along SW 137th Avenue, north and south of the airport’s 128th Street entrance. The farmland expansion at Kendall- Tamiami Executive Airport combines an existing 43-acre tract already leased for farming with a newly designated 109 acres, both located on the far west side of the airport, bordering the extension of SW 157th Avenue.
“The new farming acreage actually lies between the main South runway westward to the fencing perimeter separating airport land from SW 157th Avenue,” Owens explained. “The western loop of 157th Avenue south of SW 120th Street was required to provide clearance for aircraft use on the expanded South runway.”
The nine-year lease for farming acreage was awarded to JNJ Growers Inc., address listed as 16070 SW 153 St., high bidder of three at $531.99 per acre on a four-year contract starting Aug. 1 with five one-year renewals, Owens noted.
When an existing tenant discontinued leasing last year for the 40-acre tract already farmed, the county approved a oneyear lease for JNJ to take advantage of the winter/spring growing season, prior to bidding and leasing for the expanded area.
“Otherwise, the 40 acres would have remained fallow when the former tenant’s lease expired in 2012,” Owens said.
Combined leasing for 152 acres would bring in $80,961 annually, estimated Deputy Mayor Jack Osterholt who, with Mayor Carlos Gimenez, recommended the new leasing on behalf of the Aviation Department.
The department in its report to commissioners said it “has leased land for farming purposes for many years in an effort to reduce ground-keeping maintenance requirements, provide additional revenues to MDAD and contribute to the agribusiness economy of Miami-Dade County.”