Commissioners: Defend Farms And Smart Growth12/12!

UPDATE12/6: Agenda item numbers have changed to reflect how they will appear on the BCC agenda. Previous Committee designations have been removed.

December 12th is a critical date for the future of land use in Miami-Dade. While the important Miami Wilds vote captures headlines, two lower profile pieces of legislation could fundamentally alter the future of development in the county. Both items impact not just one area of habitat, but ALL agricultural lands and most potential developments along the Urban Development Boundary (UDB).

Item 7B sponsored by Commissioner McGhee is a complex and wide-ranging expansion of permitted uses in areas zoned for agriculture. Crucially, this ordinance would remove the requirement to obtain a Certificate of Use (CU) for many commercial activities purported to be agritourism.  Agritourism activities promoting legitimate agricultural operations are permitted by Florida statutes and should be encouraged to support farmers and rural communities.

However, this ordinance is far to much tourism and very little agriculture. Unusually, the ordinance was drafted without consulting county staff and is opposed by the Agricultural Practices Board, production farmers,  and many long-time rural residents. It would retroactively approve operations with using "agritourism" as cover to avoid basic regulations while exploiting tax benefits designed to support productive farming. As one local farmer has stated, deregulating these uses will render the UDB irrelevant by permitting higher impact uses in rural areas.

Item 11A13 sponsored by Vice Chair Anthony Rodriguez would reduce the supply of jobs to housing unit ratio for projects requesting expansions of the UDB. This measure, a last minute add-on in committee, undermines affordability by placing housing farther from job centers which will increase costs and make commutes longer for workers. Additionally, the resolution asks to backload density in phased projects, and introduces language that may require more single family housing. All these provisions contradict smart growth best practices and distract from the critical shortage of Missing Middle housing.  

Tell Commissioners to reject these changes on December 12th and to protect rural areas and promote affordable development!

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