County Government

October Commission Digest

November 16, 2018

October’s commission meetings were a little lighter than September; the major items that stand our relate to zoning and transportation. Below you can quickly glance to find the items in the digest that are of interest as they are divided by category.

Housing (Development and Zoning)

The commission unanimously awarded development rights to Cornerstone Group Partners to create a mixed-use apartment building at 2005 West Okeechobee Road, Hialeah, Florida 33010, which is in Chairman Esteban Bovo’s district. The structure will consist of three eight-story high-rise towers that will contain 286 mixed-income units. 84 units will be set aside for tenants who receive Section 8 housing vouchers from the Hialeah Housing Authority. The rest of the 202 of the housing units in the building will go to elderly tenants of different income levels.

At the same hearing, Cornerstone Group Partners sought to resolve a zoning issue with another one of its prospective developments in Commissioner Edmonson’s district. This housing development will include 96 units, one of which will be reserved for a police officer at a 50% discount. Members of a local homeowners association near the prospective development expressed concern about the building’s potential impacts on local traffic and potential to invite more gentrification to the area, displacing the area’s African American residents. Commissioner Edmonson requested that Cornerstone formally agree to act “in good faith” with members of the community in finalizing the project and the commission agreed to move the item unanimously.

Commission Reports

The commission also discussed the findings of a Solar Feasibility Report which evaluated the feasibility and impacts of using solar energy to power county buildings like libraries, water and sewer administration buildings, and public housing. The report found that the installation of solar panels on these buildings could leave the county better equipped to continue to deliver services during emergency weather events,, as well as creating local high-skill jobs. Commissioners and community members alike expressed interest in implementing the ideas detailed in the report.

Roads, Traffic and Transportation

Hialeah will see a roadway improvement project along 102 Avenue from NW 138 Street to NW 145 Place. Commissioners approved a resolution for a joint participation agreement between the county at the City of Hialeah. Construction is scheduled to begin in January of 2019. The project will cost the county up to $4.2 million to design and complete.

Commissioner Cava introduced a resolution to waive appointment term limits to re-appoint Paul Schwiep to the a href=””>Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust (CITT) which is tasked with overseeing the People’s Transportation Plan funded with the half-penny sales surtax. Commissioner Martinez took issue with the reappointment, incorrectly claiming that Schwiep had sued the county over the 836 Kendall Expressway extension. Schwiep, who is a lawyer, sent a records request to the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority in early September for documents related to the 836 proposal. Schwiep was re-appointed with the approval of all commissioners except Martinez.

Commissioner Cava also sponsored a resolution to conduct a study on the feasibility of implementing scramble crosswalks at high-volume intersections in Miami-Dade. The crosswalks work by halting all vehicle traffic and allowing all pedestrians to cross wherever they would like, including diagonally across the intersection. Scramble crosswalks are popular in high-density cities like Tokyo and have been known to reduce pedestrian deaths. Florida has among the country’s highest rates of pedestrian fatalities in the nation, according to a study conducted by Smart Growth America, an organization that advocates for walkable cities. Commissioner “Pepe” Diaz asked whether the crosswalks would worsen traffic, which prompted Commissioner Higgins to request an amendment to include a study on traffic.

An ordinance sponsored by Commissioner Cava that integrates municipal transit information with the county’s transit systems passed its second reading unanimously.

Naming Rights

The commission voted unanimously to sell the naming rights to American Airlines in a resolution sponsored by Audrey Edmonson. Consultants will solicit a new sponsor in the coming months, whose name must not be associated with alcohol or adult entertainment under county ordinance. The arena, which sits on county land costs the local government nearly $5.5 million a year in subsidies. Since the original sponsorship deal was struck in the 1990s, the stadium’s sponsorship value is estimated to have nearly tripled.