Town's Comprehensive Plan addresses needs for projected 2020 population of 33,185

Community By David Snelling, The Miami Laker staff Wednesday, June 18, 2014


By 2020, Miami Lakes must find a way to accommodate 28,716 residents by adding housing, parks, commercial buildings, office spaces and transportation upgrades to meet the needs for the town’s growing population, which could increase to 36,295 people by 2025.

Based on the population projections, Miami Lakes, which encompasses 6.5 square miles, would no longer be called a small town.

According to the town’s new comprehensive master plan, which included an intensive review and subsequent comments by the state of Florida, Miami Lakes needs an additional 225.5 acres for future land-use for parks and recreation, low density and low medium density residential and office/residential.

Residential development is estimated at 1,605 units and about 2.6 million total square feet for potential non-residential development.

The town currently has 4,166 acres for existing land-use and future development. The Graham Companies and the Lowell Dunn family own the biggest properties including a large tract along Miami Lakes Drive and east and west of Northwest 87th Avenue called Dunnwoody Lakes and Dunnwoody Forest.

At the June 10 regular Town Council meeting, lawmakers approved the updated version of the comprehensive master plan, which needed some tweaking based on the inaccurate projections taken from the last two Census reports, according to the town’s Evaluation and Appraisal (EAR) supporting the plan amendments.

Miami Lakes initially adopted the plan in 2003 and updated it in 2009, as part of the EAR report, which discovered the population projection was substantially lower than what the actual future population would be.

The 2010 Census recorded the town’s population at 29,361, more than 15 percent higher than the original plan had estimated and almost 10 percent higher than the EAR’s estimate, but the assumptions appear to be fundamentally flawed.

Conceivably, the problem stemmed from inaccurate low numbers to project the growing needs for residents and business owners, according to the report.

Based on Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser’s data, a spate of construction for residential buildings occurred between 2000 and 2003, including 1,186 single-family homes, 288 apartment units and 285 condominium units, for a total of 1,759 units.

But some of the construction work was not acknowledged as part of the projection process.

In the Census reports from 2000 to 2010 for people per household, the town’s average increased from 2.75 to 2.86, and the population trend is expected to increase at the same rate.

The study assumed that the people per home rate in Miami Lakes will continue to rise through 2025, resulting in average people per home at 3.15, the state said.

According to the 2010 Census, Miami Lakes had 10,698 housing units.

According to town permit records, 175 residential units were erected between the same time period and at the end of 2013, bringing the total to 10,873.

Therefore, to meet the 2025 housing demand, Miami Lakes must build between 686 and 1,019 units, and the maximum development potential in the current comprehensive master plan would allow 1,605 additional units on available land, more than enough to the meet the projected demand.

But if the units aren’t erected on properties designed for parks and recreation and environmentally protected parks, and in the business and office and residential areas, the town is left with potential development of 926 units, even with the Dunn family’s plans to build 509 residential units and a shopping plaza on Dunnwoody Lakes at the density which was approved in the site plan.

According to the town’s comprehensive master plan, Miami Lakes currently has 44 acres of parks considered urban open space and 80 acres for community and neighborhood pocket parks.

Based on the town’s estimated 2013 population of 29,966, the actual Level of Service, or LOS, is 1.46 acres of urban open space per 1,000 population, and 2.67 acres of community and neighborhood parks per 1,000 population.

Miami Lakes is currently not meeting the adopted LOS because the town’s population increased significantly more than anticipated in the original master plan, according to the EAR report.

The town, however, is planning to build a 2-acre dog park near the Palmetto Expressway frontage road and N.W. 82 Avenue, which would be a neighborhood park.

Based on the population projections, to meet the adopted LOS in 2020, Miami Lakes would need an additional 58.07 acres of urban open space and 107.85 acres of community or neighborhood parks.

The numbers in 2025 would be 61 acres and 113 acres of urban open space and community parks, respectively, meaning the town would need to acquire and build a total of 50 acres of parks by 2025.

The town’s N.W. 87th Avenue Development Agreement with the Lowell Dunn family could be the best solution for additional green space.

According to the accord, which is tied into the Dunnwoody Lakes rezoning project for the 509 housing units and shopping plaza, the developer is required to dedicate up to 6.11 acres of the historic Madden’s Hammock, as well as a restrictive covenant which requires allocating 2.70 acres of small parks for the residential building project to meet the concurrency requirement.

Donating the space would help bring Miami Lakes’ existing park acreage to 47 for urban open space and 88 for community parks.

Another possible solution is the Par 3 golf course area, which is owned by The Graham Companies.

The town created the Par 3 Advisory Committee to determine the best option to use the 28-acre property, most likely a passive park.

For transportation upgrades, the 2010 Miami-Dade County EAR identified two roadways east and west of the Palmetto Expressway that are not meeting the adopted LOS “D” standard.

The roads are Miami Lakes Drive from the Palmetto Expressway west to N.W. 84 Avenue, which is operating at LOS “F,” and N.W. 170 Street from N.W. 77 Avenue west to N.W. 87 Avenue, which is operating at LOS “E.”

The EAR also indicates that no improvements to these segments are planned in the Five Year Transportation Improvement Program, the 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan or in the People’s Transportation Plan.

But the opening of N.W. 87 Avenue from 154 to 162 streets could improve the level of service on the deficient roadways.