Town officials react to a proposed study to expand Opa Locka airport

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 0 Comments

After Miami Lakes was placed on alert over a proposed Miami-Dade County resolution to possibly expand operations at Miami International Airport and Opa Locka Airport, which could have a serious impact on residents’ quality of life, the town’s elected voices publicly opposed the idea for the latter airfield facility.

Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid and Councilmembers Nelson Rodriguez and Luis Collazo attended the July 6 County Commission meeting to explain their opposition to Commissioner Sally Heyman’s resolution, which directs Mayor Carlos Gimenez to conduct a study to analyze existing services and potential growth opportunities at Miami International Airport and Opa Locka Airport. 

The Miami Lakes contingent indicated additional aviation activities would ruin residents’ quality of life and could bring down property values. 

Rodriguez was the most vocal in the town’s opposition and said he was miffed the county didn’t notify the town about the new proposed 800,000 square-foot Amazon Fulfillment Center at Opa Locka Executive Airport, since the expansion would impact the town as well.

The project will create over 1,000 full-time jobs with benefits, county officials say. 

“I’m concerned with the possibility of increased air traffic and noise at Opa Locka Airport,” Rodriguez said. “Another concern is that the Town of Miami Lakes hasn’t been invited to participate in any discussions of the 1.2 million square feet of developments ongoing at Opa Locka Airport, such as the new Amazon distribution center. As a bordering neighbor, I believe Miami Lakes needs to be included in discussions of future developments at Opa Locka Airport.”

Rodriguez also asked the county to bring back the Noise Abatement Committee for Opa Locka Airport.  

Following the comments of opposition, Heyman said the study would include any negative impacts to the surrounding areas of both airports.

According to the resolution, the two airports should be the leading engines for jobs creation in South Florida, given their size, ease of access to multiple locations within Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties, and their airfield capacity. 

The resolution also states that the county should work with developers or lessees to bring aviation and non-aviation related businesses to both airports to help them achieve their potential growth.

The study would determine whether such services are the highest and best uses of the airports in terms of job creation and ensuring both airports remain available for aviation users consistent with federal law. 

When the town first learned of the resolution, Cid called an emergency meeting at Miami Lakes Town Hall, where council members voiced their concerns and agreed to appear before the County Commission.
Councilmembers instructed town staff to write Heyman a letter explaining their opposition to her resolution.

“It’s a serious matter because of the grave impact on the quality of life on our residents,” Cid said at the emergency meeting. 

For years, Miami Lakes residents were concerned about additional commercial and cargo flights at Opa Locka Airport but breathed a sigh of relief in 2001 when then-County Commissioner Miriam Alonso successfully sponsored a resolution to prevent additional flights at the airport.

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