Ballot referendum could add to new city to Miami-Dade County

Residents in neighborhoods near Aventura split over decision


MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – An unincorporated neighborhood of Northeast Miami-Dade, which borders Aventura, has never had its own name, but that could change next month.

Voters who live in the area -- home to the Skylake, Greyknoll Estates and Highland Lakes subdivisions -- will decide on the ballot whether the community of nearly 19,000 residents should be incorporated as its own city, keeping about $9 million in tax dollars in the zone.

"It's a really nice place to raise kids," said resident Bari Schanerman, who supports the change.

The ballot referendum outlines the boundary between Biscayne Boulevard and Interstate 95, south of the Miami-Dade county line to North Miami Beach.

"I think the main thing is control over our own tax monies. One of the things we don't have is our own police force, even though we're paying a ton of money into police to cover other areas," resident and supporter Jonathan Morton said.

But a tour of the community shows a neighborhood divided. There are just as many "vote yes" campaign signs as there are "no" signs.

Opponents said the incorporating a city would costs resident more in the long run.

"As we go along and have to build a new City Hall, and a new this and new that. We have all the services now at a lower rate," said resident Rita Magan, who opposes the change.  "Code enforcement is going come and tell us exactly what to do. Taxes will be higher to pay for and maintain this new city."

But County Commissioner Sally Heyman, who represents the area, said audit assessments and independent studies have disproved that theory.

"What we found out was, there will be no increase because it's a donor community. Actually, there's mitigation costs because it is donor community. They pay more into the county than they receive in services," Heyman said.

Making the choice on the ballot is simple. A "yes" vote would allow the area to form its own city government. The new city would likely still contract with the county for police and fire services.
A new name would then be worked out down the road.

A "no" vote would mean no change. The area would continue operating just as it has been.


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