(WSVN) - Homeowners call their community’s lake an urban oasis, but a developer sees it as an island of desperately-needed affordable housing, so who will win this fight over a patch of fresh water? The Night Team’s Kevin Ozebek investigates.
It’s 80 acres of calm water, a soothing break from the urban sprawl in Northwest Miami-Dade. It’s also Anthony Johnson’s favorite fishing spot.
Anthony Johnson, homeowner: “There’s a lot of large-mouth bass.”
Anthony’s back yard looks onto silver blue lake, and this view that he cherishes could soon dramatically change.
Kevin Ozebek: “So this development, if it moves forward, would be right here where we are looking?”
Anthony Johnson: “That’s correct!”
About three quarters of the land beneath the lake is owned by a company called Lake Sana Developments.
It wants to fill a portion of the lake and build 100 three- and four-bedroom apartments for working class families.
Miguel de la Portilla, attorney for Lake Sana Developments: “It’s a project that is tailored and geared for the local workforce, professionals, paraprofessionals, teachers, firefighters.”
But despite Miami-Dade’s housing crunch, the plan has some vocal opposition.
Kevin Ozebek: “Raise your hand if you are determined to fight this [all 9 residents raise their hands].”
This group of residents who live on or near the lake have a long list of concerns.
The lake was man-made decades ago but is now home to a host of wildlife, including at times bald eagles.
Munir Ingram, lives near lake: “I appreciate the idea of affordable housing, but let’s preserve our environment for future generations.”
Others worry how the development will impact drainage, traffic and property values.
Harlan Woodard, lives near lake: “We can’t have this. We can’t have developers running amok and destroying our community.”
And all in this group are worried about losing the tranquility they get from the lake.
Moyel McKnight: “I come out, and I’m imagining an apartment-looking, at apartments there.”
While some living here are livid, the attorney for Lake Sana Developments tells 7News the development plan meets standards for flood protection.
He also says building the apartments will not threaten any endangered species.
Miguel de la Portilla: “We’re willing to restrict ourselves to only using 29 of the 57 acres that we own and keeping the rest as open space and water in perpetuity.”
Lake Sana’s plan also includes sprucing up Optimist Club, which is this county-owned park right on the lake.
Miguel de la Portilla: “A club that hasn’t seen investment and improvements in decades.”
But for some, that still isn’t good enough.
Anthony Johnson: “We have a jewel. This is an oasis for everyone. We’re going to pass down something to our kids. Is it always going to have to be concrete and development?”
For now, Anthony is going to fish and enjoy his view as much as he can because the landscape of this lake could be changing.
A Miami-Dade community board will decide Thursday night if the development plan can move forward.
Kevin Ozebek, 7News.
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