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Cabinet: Hold the Line on Urban Development Boundary

July 31, 2009

Miami, FL - Environmentalists are applauding the decision by Governor Crist's cabinet ordering Miami Dade County not to expand the urban development boundary into wetlands near the Everglades National Park. The final order, recently issued in the lawsuit over a proposal to build a Lowe's shopping plaza near Everglades National Park, found development would threaten the environment, the water supply, and the economy.

Kahlil Kettering, Biscayne restoration program analyst for the National Parks Conservation Association, says the cabinet agreed the project violated state growth management policies and threatened the environment.

"That was a momentous decision. We're glad the Governor's cabinet has sent a message to the county that we need to continue to hold the line. It's important to protecting the Everglades, protecting our economy, and protecting our quality of life."

Kettering's group argued development further west isn't needed due to the large number of empty homes and office buildings in Miami Dade County already. That type of boundary push, he says, adds to urban sprawl and places a heavy burden on taxpayers.

"It requires services and infrastructure to be pushed further and further west, such as roads and water pipelines, and this creates an economic tax burden on the residents of Miami Dade County."

Most importantly, Kettering adds, holding the line is critical to efforts to restore the Everglades, which help protect the water supply, make agriculture viable, and stimulate the south Florida economy.

"When you're allowing development to expand west and encroach on lands which are important for the vitality of the Everglades, you're, in essence, biting the hand that feeds you, as it is so important to our economy."

Developers argued the Lowe's was needed to provide for the people moving west of the urban development boundary.

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL