A Crisis Averted --- At Least for Now - South Dade News Leader: Community News | South Dade News Leader | Miami Dade County

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A Crisis Averted --- At Least for Now

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Posted: Friday, November 10, 2017 12:00 am

   A threat to the future of Homestead Air Reserve Base was averted last week when the application for expansion of the Urban Development Boundary near Homestead Air Reserve Base was withdrawn by the applicant in the face of strong organized community resistance.

   The application first came to the attention of the 50-year old Military Affairs Committee of the South Dade Chamber of Commerce when an unnamed local citizen informed the Committee chair of the application and how close the properties were to HARB.  The application looked innocuous until plotted on a map which showed the closeness of the property to HARB.

Proposed was a mixed-use project with office, retail space, a hotel and an assisted living facility on the sites.  Approval would have created significant encroachment issues and would have threatened the long term military value of the Base which is not only playing a key role in homeland security but also in two long wars on foreign shores.

   The MAC notified the City of Homestead elected officials, Miami-Dade county commissioners and other state officials of the threat.  The effort was led by MAC Chair Kurt Kadel and Advocacy Chair Jonathan Borgert who is responsible for

ooking out for the future of the Base at the county, state and national level.

The Homestead City Council played a pivotal –  the first and maybe the most important role in thwarting approval of the application.  They discussed the issue during two meetings in October, voting 7-0 at the second meeting to report its disapproval to the Miami-Dade County Commission.  After the first meeting the application was modified to not include the Homestead Housing Authority property.  Councilman Jon Burgess who led the City effort to protect the Base explained:  "The need to protect the Base and its current and future missions was more important than more development."  Mayor Jeff Porter reaffirmed that by saying "the Council recognized the importance of the Base and voted unanimously to oppose moving the UDB.  The presence of a large number of MAC members and military men and women in the chamber had a significant impact on the Council decision.  With the importance of the Base we recognized the value of a 'bird in the hand versus two in the bush'."

   Kadel wrote letters to city, county, state and national elected officials and the Homestead Housing Authority which owns one of the properties requesting that the application be turned down.  He also visited some County    Commissioners who expressed their support for HARB.  A secondary result of approval would have been the displacement of more than 290+ working poor farmworker families who can little afford market rate rentals.  The Homestead Housing Authority's South Dade Center dates back to before WWII with the original houses having been replaced in the 1960s.

   Primarily through the assistance of the South Dade News Leader the community was informed of the threat to the Base and rallied to its support.  MAC ordered buses for the two County meetings and signed up folks to attend the meetings.  Just days before the first meeting the application was withdrawn.

   Our community has probably not seen the end of this issue but we can take pride in our unity of purpose in defending our long time Air Force neighbors and the 3,000+ jobs the Base provides.

 

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