County supports study for land use near Homestead air base
By Tom Harlan
Miami-Dade County officials support a study to help determine how to use land surrounding Homestead Air Reserve Base without interfering with existing military operations.
The study, part of a US Department of Defense program, will be a cooperative effort between local governments and military installations to analyze the land and spot possible encroachments or conflicting land uses. The purpose of the joint land-use study is to review codes and discuss how other communities near bases develop surrounding land.
"This land-use study will provide guidance on how not to encroach on the base," said Diana Gonzalez, coordinator for the Miami-Dade Defense Alliance.
The study will not result in recommendations on using the land, she said. But policies adopted because of the study may be applied as the land is developed.
The 600 acres are to be transferred to the county beginning next month.
Representatives of Florida City, Homestead, the US Air Force Reserve, the Miami Air and Marine Branch of the Department of Homeland Security and the Florida National Guard are likely to participate in the study.
In addition, County Manager George Burgess will appoint a representative to the study's policy committee. The representative probably will come from the county's planning and zoning department, said Ms Gonzalez.
If the study finds encroachments that prevent functions on the base, recommendations will be made to the county on resolving the issue, Ms. Gonzalez said.
The commission, the base and the federal government have committed to participate in the study, Ms. Gonzalez said, and a resolution in support of it will be sent to the Department of Defense for review. She said it is hard to predict when the study will begin.
After it begins, it probably would be a year before recommendations are made, she said.
The Vision Council, Homestead's economic development agency, is coordinating the land-use study. The Office of Economic Adjustment, a division of the Department of Defense, will finance 75% of the study's cost because the base has several jurisdictions participating in the study, Ms. Gonzalez said.
The Office of Economic Adjustment offers grants and technical assistance to promote the use of military zoning codes into local planning.
County staff will provide support for the group working on the study as the county's 25% share of the study's cost. The resolution commits the county to implementing the study's recommendations.
"The Air Base is an integral part of the South Miami-Dade area and the county as a whole, generating a local economic impact of more than $127 million annually," Commissioner Katy Sorenson said in a written statement. "It's also a key component to national security in one of the country's busiest gateway areas, so the (study) will ensure that federal, local and private interests are addressed appropriately and evenly."
The study is a normal part of developing around active bases because various parties may have different plans for the surrounding land, said Curt Ivy, Homestead's city manager. For example, the county might want to build residential land up to the base, but the military might consider than an encroachment, he said.
"We support the air base," Mr. Ivy said. "With all of the development we are having, we don't want to have an encroachment that is going to harm the base."