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Council Approves Planning Swap for New Homes on Kingman

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Posted: Monday, April 1, 2019 11:03 am | Updated: 11:10 am, Mon Apr 1, 2019.

Homestead City Council approved a major planning amendment at its meeting on Wednesday March 20 clearing the way for 778 new homes on 85 acres.

The complicated request was to swap 134 planned residential units in four other sections of the Development of Regional Impact (DRI). The four sections are to the south of Palm Drive. Those new units were assigned to vacant land on the west side of Kingman Drive and south of North Canal Drive.

The maneuver changed the density for DRI Sections 10 and 11, increasing residential dwellings but decreasing commercial and mixed uses. Total new residential dwellings within the DRI would remain at 9,870 units. The change allows the land owner to build the 778 units on this acreage.

Hugo Arza, attorney for applicant Keys Gate III Trust, made the pitch for approval. He was joined by Carlos Gonzalez for Lennar Homes.

Arza noted sixteen acres north of the land on Canal Drive remains designated for commercial development. Staff analysis stated total DRI commercial space would be reduced to 36 acres with an accompanying decrease in square footage.

The attorney said the land is on an already-built four lane roadway. The staff report said the traffic analysis is “vested and exempt from further concurrency review”.

Mayor Stephen Shelley conceded Council’s inability to reassess traffic patterns for the project.

“I disagree that the roads can handle it,” said Councilmember Jon Burgess. “Everybody’s using that one road and with 770 new units you’ll get close to 2500 trips a day from there.” 

Burgess also noted signed petitions from neighbors asking for denial because of inadequate roads. Councilmember Elvis Maldonado asked if the names and addresses had been verified and was told they were accepted as Homestead residents.

City staff informed the Councilmember there were no capacity issues for current water and sewer lines, considered capable of handling new volume in that area.

“I’m concerned with the density,” said Mayor Shelley. “We have an overabundance of townhomes and multi-family development. Why not use what’s available; what’s driving this?”

Attorney Arza used an analysis of market fixed costs and the need for adequate green space and clubhouse facilities to explain. Lennar spokesman Gonzalez said exorbitant land costs were pushing vertical construction costs so a reduction in unit numbers meant the economics wouldn’t work. The

bottom line is the area would be left solely with commercial development without this approval.

Councilmember Larry Roth said the demographics of the area have changed and that residential mixed use was preferable to a large shopping center on the land.

As part of this package, applications also are pending for a site plan, tentative re-plat plus for a special taxing district and establishment of a community development district.

The application asked for one variance for the development, proposing to narrow the interior roadway to twenty feet from twenty-two feet.

Staff said they permitted dumpster enclosures for the 176 proposed townhomes instead of the City’s usual residential super cans to save space. It was also noted a water main on the property had to be moved requiring additional construction along Kingman Drive.

Following public comment that was generally in support, Councilmember Patricia Fairclough questioned staff about the application. She verified the project met all legal requirements and the issue was redistribution of dwelling units within an approved plan.

“I’ve met with the delegates and residents who have positive things to say about the homes,” said Councilmember Jenifer Bailey. “This is a tough decision as nobody wants that growth but this is a necessary growing pain.”

Council’s material on the issue included a February letter from a Keys Gate III Trust trustee. It informed the City that Wayne and Drew Rosen were the owners of the Keys Gate Golf Course. The letter said the Trust was willing to loan the Rosens $5 million to rebuild and renovate the golf course and clubhouse once Lennar’s purchase of their 79 acres closed in April.

Councilmember Burgess asked about the letter. Council material included staff’s land use analysis stating the 150 acre golf course set aside would not change. Applicant’s attorney said Council got the letters due to a “commonality of ownership” for the fifty-five acres including plans for the nine-hole golf course.

Council’s final vote on the issue was five to two with Mayor Shelley and Councilmember Burgess voting no.

In other business, Council unanimously approved the rezoning of 301 Civic Court necessary to conclude the government transfer to Miami-Dade College for a new student development and business center.

Council also agreed to spend $38,142 for new “eco-friendly dog park equipment” to upgrade and expand the dog parks at Roscoe Warren and James Archer Smith parks.

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