The end of a countywide moratorium on new municipal incorporations has Kendall civic leaders ready to start drawing boundary lines.
The Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations (KFHA) began its move even before Miami- Dade County commissioners took an 11-0 vote on Apr. 3 lifting a five-year ban that has stymied efforts to incorporate East Kendall and The Falls. “It woke us all up,” declared Michael Rosenberg, president of KFHA, after presiding at a three-hour meeting on Mar. 30 when officials of four recently created municipalities unanimously supported incorporation to improve local services.
A three-paragraph resolution by the KFHABoard of Governors was sent to all 13 county commissioners, backing the repeal and encouraging “government leaders to inspire and support the community in decisions of self-determination.”
Adding emphasis, the statement asked that commissioners “trust the wisdom, desires, hopes, and dreams of various communities throughout unincorporated Dade and to recognize that the same communities that placed you in power, also have the right to decide their own destinies.”
The commission action to end the moratorium lacked participation of an absent chair Joe A. Martinez and didn’t record a vote for Xavier Suarez who openly backed the repeal in pre-voting discussions. Both serve large sections of Kendall in their respective Districts 7 and 11.
The Gazette learned prior to deadline that Rosenberg and unidentified incorporation advocates planned to hold at least one meeting in mid-April to begin drawing boundaries for up to a dozen new municipalities in both East and West Kendall.
Rosenberg earlier said that while KFHA does not yet have a formal position on incorporation, “We have asked support of communities in this effort, rather than hindering [them].”
McHenry “Hank” Hamilton, Dadeland area CPA and liaison for the countywide “Let’s Incorporate Now” (LINC) group, which has spearheaded local incorporations for 15 years, said, “I enthusiastically endorse going forward to create incorporations in Kendall.”
Hamilton took leadership role in drawing city boundaries for the Cherry Grove area of East Kendall, appearing at the KFHA meeting with a map of its boundaries south from Snapper Creek Expressway to SW 112th Street between SW 97th Avenue and S. Dixie Highway (US1), the last Kendall area to attempt incorporate before the moratorium.
“Certainly we plan to go ahead with it, once there’s sufficient feedback from commissioners on what any new ground rules may be for new incorporations,” Hamilton said, referring to an indication the commission plans a public meeting on post-ban procedures.
That session may have to deal with the controversial mitigation fees paid back to the county by newly formed cities to compensate for continued county services, and how such cities would share in the halfcent transportation tax revenues.
Joining Hamilton in welcoming the ban’s demise was airline pilot David Allen who attended the KFHA meeting, displaying an enlarged map of “The Falls Village,” generally west of US1 to the Don Shula Expressway (SR 874) between the northern boundary of Richmond Heights and SW 152nd Street.
“We’ll definitely be scheduling meetings in the weeks to come,” he stated, noting that proposed area immediately south of Kendall numbered about 24,000 residents. “We held meetings at my home up until the ban,” Allen said. “Now we’ll be setting a new meeting, probably within the next two weeks.”
Three other incorporation movements in the county stymied by the ban had been initiated in Westchester, north of Bird Road and west of Coral Gables; Sky Lake- Highland Lakes, west of Aventura, and Fisher Island, across Government Cut from Miami Beach.
Appearing at the KFHA meeting and unanimously backing incorporations were Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez, Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner, Cutler Bay Mayor Edward MacDougall and South Miami Vice Mayor Josh Liebman.
“It makes people participatory,” was Lerner’s comment when asked by Rosenberg what she considered the most advantageous reason for incorporation.
“Local government brings issues much closer to the people,” she said. “Now they talk to me about zoning and neighborhood matters in the supermarket. It brings voters close to whom they vote for when compared to county officials.”
Added MacDougald: “It’s given us things we never had before — two new parks and the widening Old Cutler Road. Those never would have happened without incorporation.”
He also cautioned that, “Incorporating Kendall, however, will have major impact on the whole county.
MacDougald referred to the size of Kendall, Miami-Dade’s largest part of UMSA (Unincorporated Municipal Service Area), variously estimated at 250,000 to more than 400,000 residents residing between US1 and Krome (SW 177th) Avenue, south of Bird Road to SW 152nd Street.
“If you incorporate Kendall, county government itself becomes a whole new ball game,” he warned, likely setting a primary agenda item for the county commission’s first post-ban discussions.
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