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Dismantling of growth management could spell end of effort to contain Dade sprawl

For a generation, a sharp and sometimes controversial line has contained Miami-Dade’s explosive urban growth like a gasket, largely insulating the county’s fragile agricultural hinterlands, surviving wetlands and two national parks from subdivisions and commercial-strip development.

Now the days of holding the line on the Urban Development Boundary — the focus of some of the fiercest local battles over growth and the environment — may be drawing to an end.

Measures approved by the Florida Legislature with little scrutiny or debate in the waning moments of this year’s session would dismantle the state oversight that has acted as the principal brake on repeated efforts by the county commission to breach the line for new development.

The measures, almost sure to be signed by business-friendly Gov. Rick Scott, would significantly water down the state’s 25-year-old growth-management system, giving counties and municipalities far greater freedom to amend the local comprehensive development plans that are meant to control suburban sprawl.

The UDB, which runs along the inside of the county’s western and southern edges as well as its southeastern coastal fringe, is a key feature of Miami-Dade’s comp plan. Development outside the line is limited, in most areas, to one dwelling per five acres. Given the Miami-Dade Commission’s history of voting repeatedly to alter its comp plan to move the line, UDB supporters say there would be little standing in elected officials’ way once the measures become law. More from Andres Viglucci here.