Homestead City Council’s meeting on Wednesday September 23 followed a nearly four hour discussion of the final City budget for next fiscal year beginning October 1.
Council’s preeminent land use decision was consideration of a new land use category, “Motorsports Mixed-Industrial” within the Villages of Homestead development area. The VOH development of regional impact (DRI) plan was adopted in December of 1975.
Reclassification of 33.94 acres of the speedway’s overflow parking was proposed to accommodate a “state-of-the art e-commerce distribution center”. This transparent usage is generally acknowledged to refer to the international Amazon.com company.
The South Dade News Leader reported last week that Miami-Dade County recently sold a 76.9 acre property just below Pine Island Park in Princeton for $22.06 million. The company filing that site plan developed another site in Opa-Locka for Amazon.
The Pine Island site plan calls for 95 loading docks, 200 trailer stalls and 666 parking spaces. It anticipates an $80 million construction budget and creation of at least 325 permanent jobs, according to the article.
The Homestead Motorsports distribution facility plans a 132,814 square feet warehouse with 12,311 square feet of office space. The stated purpose for the master plan amendment is to permit “receiving, sorting and distributing various retail products and groceries; allowing same day or next day delivery of goods for the local distribution area”.
The applicant’s attorney Heidi Davis termed this proposed business “the critical last mile; allowing same day or next day deliveries.” She said the site would “quickly become a major employment center in the City.”
The DRI permits 3.1 million square feet of industrial use in its 244.9 acres with 37 acres set aside for schools. This application asked its 33.94 acres to be subject to that industrial use limit creating a more flexible light industry usage with the new motorsports category.
An economic study submitted with the application shows the planned site creating 466 permanent jobs with an annual income of $19,203,860, or about $41,210 per job. The facility also would generate 428 construction jobs with a budget of $25,887,178. The study showed another $148 million in positive direct impact to the local economy.
Planning & Zoning unanimously approved the application at a September 15 hearing. The October Council meeting agenda would include second reading of this DRI amendment, a site plan, one landscaping variance termed minor, and a tentative plat for the property.
Al Garcia, president of the Homestead-Miami Speedway, said “This project was time sensitive. I commend the staff for working hard on this exciting project. It will be an economic boon to South Dade and a continuing economic benefit to community.”
Council faced another land use issue for three parcels in the northwest neighborhood seeking a small scale comprehensive plan amendment from light commercial to low residential use. The City’s original plans showed two smaller lots under the established minimum of 6,750 square feet with a larger 12,016 square foot lot in the middle.
To satisfy the minimal lot size, the City Attorney recommended a waiver of plat action. This requires a new survey so Council could approve taking slices of square footage from the larger lot for the smaller ones, and then having the County approve the plat.
Mayor Steve Losner agreed with this recommendation as the least time-consuming and least costly.
Councilmember Steve Shelley had concerns with smaller lot sizes where new in-fill housing takes up most of the lot and looks different than the rest of the neighborhood.
The applicant plans to build three houses of 2048 square feet each on the lots.
Council approved the plan amendment as well as the zoning change from B-1A light commercial/residential to R-1 residential in two votes of five to one, Shelley voting no.
Another agenda issue was modification to the master plan for the Homestead Park of Commerce. The applicant wants land use modifications for two lots as a designated Planned Regional Activity Center, permitting gas stations with convenience stores, self-storage facilities, and restaurants.
The applicant also asked for reductions in lot setbacks from 50 and 80 feet to twenty feet and limits to landscaping for better access for the planned usage. Planning & Zoning approved the application by a vote of three to two.
Council was skeptical about the application. Councilmember Sean Fletcher said a school across the street creates loitering concerns for convenience store/gas stations and potential problems with future adult beverage sales.
Councilmember Shelley said the twenty three acres in the two sites would fit these businesses if done properly but once approved, any number could be built. He suggested limiting conditional usage to provide more safeguards, making the motion to move forward but create special exception approvals as part of the process. The applicant agreed to work further with staff and Council members.
Councilmembers Jenifer Bailey, Larry Roth and Erica Avila also agreed to conditional limits on the final resolution.
“The Park of Commerce was intended for job creation,” said Mayor Losner. “Common sense says the larger interior parcel would be a self-storage facility and that doesn’t create many jobs.”
“You’ll be facing a drive-through fast food joint on the corner,” the Mayor said. “It now looks like a nice wooded area with no clue what’s in there. With setback changes and landscaping changes, it will create a busy commercial corridor spilling out into Kingman Boulevard.”
Council preliminarily approved the requested land uses and setbacks contingent on working with the applicant for special permits on usage. The vote was five to one with Losner voting no.
Council unanimously approved a request from Avocado Animal Hospital to move its popular veterinary clinic to larger space on a .29 acre fenced lot on Krome Avenue, adjacent to the Royal Palm grill. The applicant offered deed restrictions on heavier business uses of B-2 zoning in requesting this rezoning change.
Finally, Council unanimously approved the certificate of use for the Outback Steakhouse at 2835 NE 8th Street/Campbell Drive to permit on-premise consumption of beer, wine and alcohol.