Without the covenant, wasn’t this development a “done deal”?
Absolutely NOT! Yes, the covenant protected the land by providing restrictions on acceptable land use. We are disappointed it was released. However, it is still zoned as Parks and Recreation in the CDMP. The release of the covenant only allowed the development of 30 homes (1 per 5 acres plus roads). The new application submitted in February 2021, had to go through the entire zoning process and included opportunity for residents to provide public comment. Since the Oct 2020 covenant hearing, residents have confirmed the presence of the endangered Florida bonneted bat, and a rare and unique active multi-species rookery, where at least one bird identified as State Threatened, the tricolored heron, has been confirmed to be nesting. We will continuing to advocate to protect this wildlife habitat and our community.
Wait, I thought this fight was over and we won in 2017? What happened?
So did we! Then in January 2020 we received a hearing notice for a public hearing to release the covenant because more than 75% of the ring owners agreed/signed a release. We don’t know the exact details because they are bound by an NDA (Non-disclosure Agreement). However, based on some neighbors that were presented with offers and declined, and some that have shared the details privately or anonymously with other neighbors, we believe each ring owner was offered between 50,000 and 300,000 (yes each!) for their agreement to release the covenant. The Board of County Commissioners voted on Oct 29th, 2020 to release to covenant. However, the application didn’t include their development plan in that application. So we expected the owner/developer to submit a separate development plan in 2021 for a 550 home development (hint: we were right)
What does the owner/developer want to build?
The Z2021000031 application submitted Feb 18, 2021 includes a site plan for 550 single family homes in a private gated community with no public community benefits.
I don’t live in Calusa, or golf, how does this affect me?
All County residents should be extremely concerned with how our covenant was released, the lack of public input, lack of community benefits, disregard for designated parks and rec land, and the impacts to our wildlife and environment. You do not need to live in Calusa to join our advocacy! If you are in any neighboring community, such as Kendall, West Kendall, Kendale Lakes, Sugarwood, Devon Aire, Sunset, Winston Park, Sabal Chase, Arvida, Killian Pines, The Hammocks, The Crossings & more, this DOES DIRECTLY AFFECT YOU! This affects communities across at least 5 different commission districts. We need to protect one of the last large green spaces left in West Kendall. We need to fight against years of increased traffic due to demolition & construction. We need to fight against thousands of additional vehicles on congested roadways fight and against the increased burden on our infrastructure that wasn’t meant to handle this kind of development. We need to ensure the County uses every available protection measure for wildlife and their habitat.
We also have 4 other Miami-Dade County districts very nearby, most across the street. So we share local schools, traffic concerns etc. They are districts 8, 9, 10 and 11. This proposed development affects all surrounding communities!!
Where can I see the application and other documents submitted to the county?
The County Website information can be found using the following plan numbers: Z2021000031
What about the Save Calusa Trust? Didn’t they fight this in court and win?
We are NOT members of the Save Calusa Trust. The Trust was formed in 2012, by around 99 ring owners, to raise funds for the legal defense to protect the covenant. Non-ring homeowners were not permitted to join the Trust. The entire community fought together, collecting petition signatures, putting up lawn signs, and showing up at County hearings. After winning in court, the Trust used our community strength as leverage and “flipped” from protecting/saving the golf course to accepting personal financial settlements in exchange for signing a waiver to release the covenant. The Trust misrepresented their intentions, acted in their own self-interest, and excluded the surrounding community that would be severely impacted by this development. The Trust led the initiative for some neighbors to sign releases in exchange for financial compensation/additional land, without regard to the rest of the community or ring owners.
What happened to the covenant?
A land use covenant existed requiring the Calusa Golf Course to remain a golf course for 99 years. It was signed in 1968 and was valid until 2067! The owner of the golf course requested to release the covenant in order to develop the land and build a largescale residential development. This covenant was meant to protect the land, and gave the owners within 150 feet of the golf course, also called “ring owners”, the responsibility to protect the covenant, the land, and their community. This is something they should take very seriously! To remove the covenant, 75% of the ring owners would need to agree and give consent to remove it, AND the commissioners also need to agree. The covenant was released October 29, 2020 by the Board of County Commissions at a public hearing with signed releases on record for 123/146 “ring” homes. There are over 2000 homes in the Calusa neighborhood.
When the County Board of Commissioners voted to release the 99 year Covenant, this automatically allowed up to 30 single family homes without a new application. The Covenant remains on the 5 superior lots (since it was a partial release of the Covenant) but the applicant has not said why they didn’t request a full release. The owner/developer then submitted a new zoning application with the complete proposed development plan for a 550 single family home development.