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Council Approves New Hotel, Plans UDB Discussion

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Posted: Friday, August 4, 2017 12:30 am

   A five member Homestead City Council met on Wednesday July 26, granting site approval for a new Hilton Garden Inn north of the turnpike and Campbell Drive.

   The hotel is positioned at an angle on the 2.6 acre site with a forty-four foot setback.  

   Attorney Tracey Slavens for Homestead Hospitality promised a wall and heavy landscaping along the northern perimeter to screen existing residents from the pool area.  Plans include 151 parking spaces and a public art installation.    

   Council also approved sales of alcohol for consumption on-premises as the hotel plans a lobby bar and use as a meeting place. 

   Councilman Jon Burgess asked about a new County push to move the Urban Development Boundary (UDB), designed to protect the Everglades from urban sprawl.  A proposal to extend the Dolphin Expressway through Kendall – and move the UDB westward - was denied by a County Commission committee in June on a 3 to 2 vote.

City Manager George Gretsas said the City has no UDB position but asked if Council wanted the issue on its September agenda. 

   “The sooner the better,” said Burgess.  “September at the latest.” 

City staff said the issue was up for discussion at the Board of County Commissioners in October.  Staff said Miami-Dade County will look to the City for its position.

   Mayor Jeff Porter said, “I think we should have the discussion.  No one is proposing moving it (the UDB) now but it’s in direct conflict with the Air Force flight patterns.  It doesn’t have to be a long conversation.”

   The UDB also applies to a large swath of land east and north of the Air Base.

   The City Attorney said HARB was reviewing the issue and suggested Council would want to review that report before taking a position.  Staff said it met with the Base representative and was aware of HARB’s position to be shared with the County. 

   Councilman Burgess volunteered to act as a liaison with the Base to talk about the effect of a change.  The Mayor also referred to letters from the Homestead’s Military Affairs Committee expressing opposition to moving the UDB.

   Mayor Porter praised Councilman Stephen Shelley for his work with community groups on a proposed housing development just outside the City to the northwest.

Councilman Shelley said neighbors met with the developer in an effective meeting that changed the extent of the plans.     Additional presentations on the so-called Krome Development are likely to be deferred to October.

   A final build-out to the Oasis development - first approved in 2004 - was accepted by Council.  Lennar Homes plans an additional 140 homes on 30.2 acres based on six models in “Pod C of Barbados, the last remaining pod at Oasis,” according to the developer’s attorney.  

Councilman Larry Roth raised the issue of current density for property plans approved years ago and the problems that can bring.

   “Parking can be a problem with four-bedroom houses with one-car garages –everyone uses garages for storage here.  Future development should take into consideration the problems current residents have living there,” said Councilman Roth.  “This is the last frontier of building; we need to protect people who will live here in the future as well.” 

   Mayor Porter determined there should be no change in density when the developer said the already platted homes were just slightly larger. 

   Councilman Burgess asked staff if additional improvements were necessary due to more traffic with additional homes.  Staff said that was factored into the development.

   Council approved a defined contribution component for the Police Officers’ Retirement Plan funded by retention of premium tax revenues that should provide a significant savings to the City.

   Council also approved a pilot project for a new electric meter data collection system.  The project covers about 2000 residents.  If applied to the entire system, the new meters would cost $3.2 million but could save the City $800,000 a year. 

Council voted unanimously to authorize the issuance of revenue bonds in the amount of $34 million for the construction of the Homestead Station multi-modal center project.  The annual debt service on the project is estimated at $1.8 million with $1.4 million of that total coming from future PTP transportation funds.   

   A City Hall maintenance agreement moved forward as did a $7,233 grant to the Seminole Theatre. 

   The Mayor proposed deferring further discussion of revisions to the Southwest Development plan until more information was available.  He closed the meeting with two appointments to the Education Advisory Committee and announcing vacancies on three City Committees.    

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