On the edge of Miami-Dade County lies an invisible westward barrier established in the 1980s to prevent industrialization from expanding into natural lands and the Everglades. Known as the Urban Development Boundary (UDB), this line has been under attack since its inception by new development applications looking to encroach upon its borders. In November, Miami-Dade County Commissioners voted to move the line once again to accommodate development interests. Despite ongoing efforts to “hold the line,” Commissioners approved an application to amend the Comprehensive Development Master Plan to make way for the South Dade Logistics and Technology District.
This facility originally proposed to transform nearly 800 acres of agricultural land outside of the UDB into a commercial center. Audubon and Hold the Line Coalition members brought numerous concerns with this proposal to the commissioners, including increased risks of flooding, adverse stormwater impacts to nearby Biscayne Bay, and potential foreclosure of an important Everglades restoration project in the area - the Biscayne Bay and Southeastern Everglades Ecosystem Restoration.
Thanks to an outpouring of public opposition, the applicant reduced the total size of the project down to 383 acres. While the project footprint has been greatly reduced, the concerns surrounding the project remain. Together with Miami-Dade County’s local chapter, Tropical Audubon Society, we submitted several letters outlining our opposition to the project moving forward outside of the UDB. Ultimately, in an 8-4 decision, the Commission voted in favor of the scaled down project and has proposed moving the UDB as a result — this will be the first time this legal boundary has been moved since 2013. One commissioner changed her vote when a 2-1 land swap was promised as a result of the approval: for every one acre included in the development project, two would be protected. Audubon Florida remains watchful that this swap actually occurs.
While Mayor Levine Cava vetoed the expansion, the commissioners voted to override the veto in mid-November. Audubon will continue to monitor this project and do our best to ensure that Everglades restoration remains viable in this area to both safeguard South Florida’s drinking water supply and protect Biscayne Bay from undue harm.
This article was published in the Fall 2022 State of the Everglades report.