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July 29, 2009
3:50 PM

CONTACT: National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA)

Kahlil Kettering, National Parks Conservation Association, 954-401-4592

Governor and Cabinet Send Message to County--Do Not Expand Urban Development Boundary

The state of Florida submits final order in lawsuit to prevent expanding the Urban Development Boundary into threatened lands

MIAMI - July 29 - The Governor's cabinet submitted a final order on July 28 against expansion of the Urban Development Boundary (UDB) in west Miami-Dade County. This order will prevent an oversized Lowes development proposal outside the urban core of Miami from moving forward on top of wetlands next to Everglades National Park, and is the result of a lawsuit brought forward last year by the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) along with the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and 1000 Friends of Florida.

Governor Crist's cabinet concurred in part with environmental advocates, civic activists, local residents, the DCA, and County staff in opposing expansion of the important UDB that protects national parks and open spaces. The permits sought for a Lowe's home improvement store and a shopping plaza would compromise the water supply, economy, and quality of life for Miami-Dade residents. The Governor's cabinet determined that the Lowe's store violated State growth management policies, but approved a shopping plaza as an anomaly, which should not set precedent to move the UDB. 

Kahlil Kettering of the National Parks Conservation Association hailed the decision by the Governor's cabinet, "This is a momentous decision and sends a clear message to Miami-Dade County that the UDB is a line that needs to be held to protect our parks and natural environment. ‘Holding the Line' is vital to restoring Everglades National Park, protecting our water supply, and keeping agriculture viable in Miami-Dade County."

The National Parks Conservation Association's legal counsel, Robert Hartsell of the Everglades Law Center, Inc., said "The cabinet has shown their commitment to promoting smart growth in our state. This ruling tells us that expansions of the UDB should be few and far between, and allowing urban sprawl that threatens America's Everglades is not sound growth management policy." 

"The cabinet's decision to ‘Hold the Line' supported thousands of citizens who know that maintaining the UDB is critical to encourage smart growth and protecting Miami-Dade's economy, environment and community" said Dawn Shirreffs, Florida Program Coordinator for Clean Water Action.

Development outside the UDB place a heavy burden on taxpayers, who must shoulder additional infrastructure costs. Given the environmental and economic realities in Miami-Dade County, the need to protect farmland and wetlands, and the glut of vacant real estate, the benefits of maintaining the UDB far outweighs any asserted need for another development outside the UDB. It is important to note that the County Department of Planning and Zoning staff recommended denying these developments before they went before the commission for approval in April.

Preserving the UDB is important to efforts to restore the Everglades. Each new development outside this area increases demands for drainage, water use, roads, supporting development and reduces the existing buffer between urbanization and the Everglades. Some of the development also results in the filling of wetlands adjacent to Everglades National Park, which are a rapidly disappearing resource in the State of Florida.

Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System.  For 36 years Clean Water Action has been working to empower people to take action to protect America's waters, build healthy communities and to make democracy work for all of us.

For more information about Clean Water Action, click here.

NPCA is a non-profit, private organization dedicated to protecting, preserving, and enhancing the U.S. National Park System.


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