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Opa-locka annexation rejected

City would have gained millions of tax dollars

Gigi Tinsley | 6/12/2014, 9 a.m.
Lady Myra Taylor, Mayor of Opa-locka

Miami-Dade’s Planning and Advisory Board last week rejected Opa-locka’s plan to annex an area that includes Miami-Dade College’s North Campus, after hearing intense opposition to the plan during a heated community meeting.

The decision was a blow to Lady Myra Taylor, who was re-elected to the position of Mayor of Opa-locka, FL in 2010. Upon taking the helm, her vision was the annexation —“broadening of territory/extending our borders” — with a portion of the unincorporated area known as North Central Miami-Dade County.

On June 2, the Planning Advisory Board (PAB) Committee did not agree with the sentiments of Taylor. They unanimously agreed to recommend that the Board of County Commissioners reject Opa-locka’s plan to annex any portion of North Central.

The plan would have added 822 acres of land, increasing the city's boundaries to 5.9 square miles from 4.5. The expansion would have begun at Northwest 107th Street and 27th Avenue and ended at Northwest 127th Street and 37th Avenue.

Opa-locka city officials said the annexation plan would have generated about $2.7 million in property tax revenues based on the city’s current tax rate.

The plan would have also allowed Miami-Dade Community College’s sprawling North Campus to become part of Opa-locka, a reality that was met with ambivalence by college administrators.

“We don’t have an official position on issues like this,” said Juan Mendieta, spokesperson for the school.

But business owners in the unincorporated areas of North Central Miami-Dade opposed the plan, fearing it would increase taxes and reduce the control residents have over their neighborhoods.

They were joined by longtime residents who attended the meeting. Their consistent statement was, “I had to come to give my support against this. We cannot just sit back and allow Opa-locka to take over what we have worked hard to acquire.” Many of them wore green t-shirts that stated, “North Central Demands the Right to Vote.”

Felix Lasarte, Esq., a warehouse owner, spoke for business owners in the North Central area.

“Take a step back,” he admonished the PAB Committee. “I understand that Opa-locka wants relief, but not at the expense of the residents and business owners. It can’t be a random picking. . . Raising taxes by $16,000 doesn’t make sense.”

Doretha Nichson, a resident of North Central said, “We have been waiting for sometime to see if the area could be incorporated and nothing has happened, yet. Over 70,000 residents will be impacted by what happens here today. I think this should be put aside until the study has been completed.

“I have been working on this for 10 years,” Mack Samuel said, “I believe that 70-75,000 residents should be allowed to make their own decision about what is best for them. We know what is best for us so please, allow us to make our own decisions.”

Elizabeth Judd, a North Central resident added, “I agree with Mr. Samuel. Opa-locka has about 16,000 residents. . .We all live in America . . . we should have the opportunity to clean up our own area. Let Opa-locka clean up their own area.

Richard Brown, another resident, agreed.

“It is time for them (Opa-locka) to get their act together on their own and not at our expense.

A Mr. Paul, a manufacturing business since 1985 stated: “We left Hialeah in 1985 to come to the unincorporated area. We cannot afford an increase of $50,000 a year. We will have not alternative but to leave, if this goes through.”

For now, it seems that the residents and businesses of North Central can stop worrying.

“Initially I was not in favor of Opa-locka annexing any land in North Central, where I am a resident. But the more I heard (about the plan) made me change my mind,” said resident E.L. Burnside, who supported the plan. “If at all possible, what needs to be done now is for the two groups sit down and discuss the points. I know my taxes will go up but the benefits are so much greater.”

Presenting the statistics on behalf of Opa-locka was Elbert Waters Those residents and business owners who are adamantly against any portion of North Central being annexed.

Miami Times Editor Erick Johnson contributed to this report.