A developer planning to build hundreds of Miramar homes on wetlands property has scaled down the number of residences amid complaints.
The plan, which originally would have led to 537 homes, now calls for building 385 single-family homes.
The community, presented by Miami-based home construction company Lennar Corp., would be situated on 120 acres south of Bass Creek Road and west of Southwest 172nd Avenue.
Mayor Wayne Messam said Thursday that Lennar dropped 152 homes from the project because of concerns from his office and residents, as well as zoning challenges. Still, he said the development would help the city keep pace with demand for housing.
“Our challenge is to determine can our city allow this development with conditions without negatively impacting our current residents.”
Four communities with more than 5,000 housing units — Silver Lakes, Riviera Isles, Nautica and Sunset Falls — sit near the land. Debate over Lennar’s plan has focused on concerns about building on wetlands, traffic and its proximity to Everglades High School, which is right across from it, on the east side of Southwest 172nd Avenue.
In an email Tuesday, Lennar Corp. spokesman Marshall Ames declined to comment for this story.
A narrow path leads into the vast thicket of vegetation covering the wetlands property, which is so dense it’s nearly impassable for anyone. The land would be cleared of melaleuca and Brazilian pepper trees to accommodate homes.
Dozens of residents and environmental activists showed up at community meetings last year, and many more attended a city meeting on June 21 when city commissioners approved Lennar’s request with a 4-1 vote.
Opponents say the development would destroy the city’s last remaining forested wetlands and are concerned about the wildlife they say they’ve seen there. They also say the clearing of land and construction — which could take up to four years — would be a burden for drivers and students heading to and from school.
“There are so many issues at stake here,” said Mark Morgan, a neighbor. “We see wildlife there every day: wood storks, herons, egrets. … We’ve seen eagles.”
During the June meeting, Dennis Mele, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer representing Lennar, said the company made sure prior to filing its application that it wasn’t displacing any such animals.
“Our biologists spent numerous hours on the site over the course of years,” he said. “I believe they said they first looked at it five years ago and have been back numerous times. … We have no endangered or threatened animals on the property.”
Lennar has conducted a traffic study that estimates there would be an increase of 3,095 daily trips, Mele said. Lennar is proposing a plan to offset that increase, by widening and extending Bass Creek Road and adding a roundabout at Southwest 172nd Avenue.
The state’s Department of Environmental Protection has a “wetlands-mitigation” policy, which essentially requires builders to replace what is destroyed to ensure the state’s supply of wetlands doesn’t fade.
It isn’t yet clear what type of mitigation Lennar would be required to do. Mele couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.
The project has received tentative approval from the City Commission. Next month, the Broward County Commission is expected to consider it. If approved, it goes to the state for review. Eric Silva, the city’s planning and economic development director, said it may take up to two years for Lennar just to get to the stage where it could start clearing land.
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