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Activists fear 168 acres of land in West Kendall will be destroyed by 550-home development

Activists fear 168 acres of land in West Kendall will be destroyed by a 550-home development.
Activists fear 168 acres of land in West Kendall will be destroyed by a 550-home development.

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. – The old Calusa Golf Course in West Kendall will likely be developed into 550 homes following a heated debate exactly one year ago.

However, “Calusa rookery” is what residents call the land, which they say is a sanctuary for hundreds of birds that nest there, including some that are endangered.

One of the endangered species of birds is the tri-colored heron, which they argue is protected by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and is recognized on their map.

There is also the bonneted bat, which is federally protected.

“We want to make sure that all the wildlife are properly identified and protected,” says community activist Amanda Prieto.

But the developer, GL Homes, says they’re working with the county on testing the site through next year’s nesting season.

“There are no endangered species, but there may be a state threatened species that’s laying eggs with birds there, and if there is, then we all want to do the right thing by the birds,” says GL Homes Executive Vice President Dick Norwalk.

So, he says that could mean preserving that area, or, moving the rookery.

However, the majority of Miami-Dade County Commissioners voted to do away with a 99-year covenant that was supposed to protect the land until 2067.

Developers say they had overwhelming support from those who live on the rim of the golf course.

And it’s not just residents in Calusa who are concerned — the Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations is also asking the county to hold off on the application.

Traffic in the area they say is already terrible, and more homes would mean more traffic.

“This is just going to add to the existing frustration of residents sitting in line waiting their turn to make it through the traffic light,” says Miles Moss of Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations.

The developer says unless they move the urban development boundary, the population will continue to grow and people have to live somewhere.

“This vacant parcel feels like a great place to do that,” says Norwalk.


About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.