When it comes to moving the Urban Development Boundary, the power of Miami-Dade County government, and its soon-to-be new mayor, has never been greater.
For more than three decades, the UDB — the line that keeps growth from encroaching west and south into fragile agricultural lands and wetlands — has been a critical curb on sprawling large-scale development from encroaching on the doorstep of the Everglades. But recent changes by the Republican-controlled Legislature that were signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott have severely limited state oversight of planning decisions by city and county governments — such as moving the UBD. State planners previously served as a check on such efforts and could stand in the way of decisions to move the line, but now can only provide non-binding comments in most cases.
“The legislation takes the power from Tallahassee and puts it more in the hands of local officials,” said T. Spencer Crowley III, a land use attorney at the law firm Akerman Senterfitt in Miami. “It doesn’t mean the UDB will automatically be moved, but it will be easier because of the state’s limited involvement in objecting to changes.”
The switch will place whoever becomes the new county mayor — former Hialeah mayor Julio Robaina and former county commissioner Carlos Gimenez will face off in a June 28 runoff — in an even more decisive role in the ongoing debate about if and when the UDB should be moved.