Florida’s pine rocklands are some of the most imperiled lands in the world. They are characterized by limestone rock outcroppings with a low understory of tropical and temperate shrubs, palms, vines, grasses and herbaceous wildflowers — as well as a single species of overstory tree, the slash pine. With very little soil substrate and a dependence on fire, these ecosystems are among the world’s rarest forests, occurring only in South Florida and the Bahamas. They once spanned 185,000 acres of Miami-Dade County, but now — thanks to rampant development — just 2 percent of those lands remain outside Everglades National Park. Florida’s pine rocklands are now regarded as critically imperiled globally, and the plants and animals that rely on them are extremely rare.A slim majority, 3 out of 5 members, of the Palmetto Bay Village Council are working to protect the valued pinelands located within our municipality and reduce traffic. Council Member David Singer issued a press released on Wednesday, 4/25/2018, further clarifying council action taken to date (See below):
A Clarifying Ordinance that Reduces Density & Traffic while preserving 22+/- acres of endangered pine rockland in Palmetto Bay secures majority vote
Councilmember David Singer’s proposed revision to the 2016 zoning of Palmetto Bay Village Center from 485 to 389 units secured the first of three votes to become law
April 25, 2018 – Palmetto Bay, FL – A majority of The Village of Palmetto Bay’s Councilmembers voted to revise a 2016 amendment that reduced density, traffic and saved 22+/- acres of endangered pine rockland from future development. This vote, supported by Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flinn, and Council Members David Singer, Seat 2, and Larissa Siegel Lara, Seat 3, marks the first of three necessary to have this revision to become law; the remaining two votes will take place in the coming months.
In 2008, the land was zoned for the development of 100 condos, 300 senior housing units, and a hotel, but didn’t protect the 22 acres of pine Rockland. In 2016, Palmetto Bay Vice Mayor John Dubois submitted a repeal to the ordinance that would have reverted the land back to the 2008 ordinance. This repeal would have allowed 485 units, the rights to building a hotel and would have exposed the pine rocklands to development.
At a March 19, 2018, Palmetto Bay Council Meeting, Singer sponsored a clarifying revision to the 2016 ordinance that protected the pine rocklands and capped traffic on Old Cutler Road based on a traffic study to 2,116 trips per day, limiting the development to 389 units. If the repeal had occurred, the daily trips would have exceeded 2,550 trips per day. Additionally, the clarifying revision included a reduction of density in the Village Mixed Use (VMU) area by 96 units (485 to 389) and the creation of a park within the span of 22+/- acres of endangered pine Rockland bordering Old Cutler Road.
“I’m glad that the majority of the Council agreed with me and voted to reduce density and traffic on Old Cutler Road and preserve vitally sensitive pine Rockland,” said Singer.
Pine rockland is a rare type of forest found only in South Florida and the Caribbean, and the latest U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) cites that Miami’s remaining pine rockland is down to 1.3+/- percent of its original 186,000-acre forest. “We are very happy that lawmakers in Palmetto Bay have taken the preliminary step to preserve the critically needed vanishing habitats of pine rockland in South Florida,” said Al Sunshine, President of the Miami Pine Rocklands Coalition, Inc., a Florida non-profit corporation. “Twenty-two acres of preserved pine rockland, protected from future development, is extremely significant for endangered animals that are being pushed out of their primary habitat.”
Photo right: Palmetto Bay's Earth Week 2018 included the annual community bike ride. One stop occurs at the Ludlum Pineland Preserve in Palmetto Bay where a presentation is held regarding the importance of the Pine Rocklands.
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