The new owner of the 198-acre Westview golf course is proposing to transform the old golf course into an industrial park and shopping center that would sit plumb in the middle of a low-scale residential community.
The area’s three homeowner associations now find themselves fighting what appears to be an uphill battle against a developer holding out the lure of jobs, tax revenue and new development to elected officials hungry for all three, and with the backing of the county’s planning department.
The project will require that the Miami-Dade Commission consider a proposed change in the land-use designations for the site, now classified as parks and recreation and low-to-mid-density residential, to industrial, office and commercial use.
Residents say they are not just angry, but offended.
“What they want to do is basically put a warehouse in my front yard,’’ said Gregory Samms, a 20-year resident of the area and a lawyer with a practice in Coral Gables, whose house also sits across the street from the course. “Do you think they would ever try to pull this crap if the Biltmore country club went under, or the Miami Shores golf club went under?
“They would never even conceive of it. Of course, we’re a minority community, so they can just come and trash us.’’
Jeffrey Bercow, attorney for developer Rosal Westview and its principal, Robert Saland, said his clients are sensitive to residents’ concerns. They have offered binding restrictions that would limit the size and impact of the industrial zone — the main focus of residents’ objections — and to install a broad, landscaped buffer zone to conceal it, he said.
The industrial park would accommodate only lighter uses, such as warehousing, distribution and assembly, not heavy manufacturing, and no access streets would go through residential areas.
“We’re trying to make it compatible with the neighborhood. We all know of upscale communities that have commerce centers and business parks that are right next to residential,’’ Bercow said, pointing to Doral and Miami Lakes. “It can be done.’’
The developers’ economic consultant put anticipated local tax revenues at more than $4 million annually and total jobs at 6,500, though county planners say a more realistic employment figure would be 3,500 people.
The job promises, however, draw scoffs from residents.
“That’s just a gimmick. They always say that,’’ Ware said. “I wouldn’t believe it if Jesus Christ came down and said, ‘Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.’ ’’
Samms, Ware and other residents stress they are not opposed to development on the golf course, which is bisected by Northwest 119th Street between 22nd and 27th avenues, and they would be amenable to office and retail. But they were expecting something along the lines of a county-sponsored charrette plan developed eight years ago with community support.
That conceptual plan called for mixed-use, main-street type development with interconnected streets in the area that would, in county planners’ words, “preserve the community’s heritage in a form that is compact, diverse and walkable.”
Source: Miami Herald
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