Miami-Dade at the doors of agritourism, ordinance debated

In Miami-Dade, this activity is not regulated at all. For this reason, an amendment to the legislative project of the commissioner of district 9, Kionne McGhee, under the name “Supplementary information for the ordinance that modifies the regulations corresponding to the Agricultural Zoning District (AU)”, which will be voted on next March 19, could formalize that line in the county.

DIARIO LAS AMERICAS had access to the proposal that will be debated by the 13 members of the Miami-Dade Commission, among which three have direct influence in the agricultural areas of Redland and Homestead, in the south of this county jurisdiction. In addition to McGhee, they include Danielle Cohen Higgins, from the 8th district, and Roberto González, from the 11th.

State support

In the opinion of Commissioner McGhee, the main sponsor of the project, “agritourism should be an option because the state legislature has already given us that power.”

In fact, the Florida Agriculture Commissioner, Wilton Simpson, highlighted the opportunities offered by this economic activity and said that in the state there is a law on agrotourism, whose objective is “to allow farmers to give other “commercial uses” to their lands in work related to that productive sector.

According to Simpson, among the “commercial uses” that SB 1106 “allows” include events such as weddings, conferences and the sale of agricultural products directly on farms, among others, “to attract visitors interested in participating in activities.” farms and learn about life in the countryside.”

McGhee, who has met on several occasions with promoters of the initiative, stated that “All of these people have come together to say not only that it’s too hot on their farms, but that they’re sick and tired of government overregulation.”.

However, some environmentalists and neighbors of farms with secondary businesses on those properties have opposed the project, using arguments ranging from tranquility in the area to the probable discharge of pathogens into water sources.

Draft ordinance

The amendment to the proposal up for debate makes changes to language presented Oct. 11 at the County Commission, such as restrictions on the construction of structures to accommodate the public, including the use of inflatables, and the distance they must be businesses dedicated to agrotourism with respect to residential areas, among others.

Regarding spaces for visitors on the premises, the standard would allow the construction of new structures or facilities intended primarily to house, protect, transport or otherwise locate members of the public in connection with agritourism activities, as long as these structures comply with several criteria.

Among the guidelines it is mentioned that these Constructions must be complementary to the agricultural operation on lands classified as such under Florida Statutes and that cannot be “within one-half mile of the exterior boundary of a property zoned residential.”

These changes are intended to adjust zoning and land use regulations to encourage the development of agritourism and other agricultural activities, while ensuring that the interests of the Miami-Dade community and rural environment are protected.

Sale of food and vehicles

Additionally, the initiative addresses the issue of motor vehicles, such as food trucks within the Agricultural Zoning District.

This activity could be provided by vehicles with “autonomous public services, including, but not limited to, gas, water and waste disposal.” In addition, “the storage, processing or disposal of solid or liquid waste” would be subject to state regulations.

The bill also states that overnight parking of food vending vehicles “is permitted on agricultural property where it is used only when the vehicle is owned and operated by the owner of the property.”

Additionally, it stipulates that “said Mobile food service operations are only permitted outside the Urban Development Boundaryeither”.

Environmental Protection

The draft ordinance incorporates several provisions related to environmental protection, particularly in the context of agriculture and agricultural operations.

Regarding the management of solid and liquid waste, it is specified that its storage, processing or final disposal must comply with the applicable requirements of chapters 15 and 24 of the Miami-Dade Code.

Chapter 15 of the county code establishes guidelines to ensure a efficient and environmentally responsible management of solid wasteincluding household garbage, commercial waste, construction and demolition debris, and other types of non-hazardous waste.

For its part, section 24 deals with aspects related to the collection, treatment, and disposal of wastewater, with the objective of protecting public health and the environment. It puts some regulations in context, among which the protection of water resources stands out.

Musical events

Musical shows in the agricultural environment are an issue that has generated some controversy among people who live near businesses where this type of activities are carried out, mainly on weekends. In fact, such events are very common along Krome Avenue or 177th Southwest.

The draft ordinance addresses these celebrations as “farm related festivities”, permitted on properties that have a current certified use as a winery, brewery, distillery and others in the agricultural district.

The current ordinance would allow no more than six outdoor farm-related festivities per year at each location, and these shows would have to take place between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. They would be prohibited between 11:00 pm and 9:00 am.

Support and opposition

Daniela Guzmán, president of the Miami Agrotourism Farms Association (MAFA), “this ordinance introduces the concept of agrotourism, which is not developed like in other areas of Florida.”

“It is a way to promote agricultural tourism in the county, it is something outdoors, people can be in contact with beekeeping, with crops, all of this is very fun, especially for children,” he explained.

He stated that the state law is “very flexible” and “encourages farms” to participate in this area. “There is ignorance about everything that can be exploited in this industry,” he said.

Nevertheless, Some residents of the area described the legislation as a way to “legalize” the “parties.” that are carried out in some businesses.

Michael Wanek, president of the Redland Homes and Farm Association, said the proposed changes could bring more heavy trucks into the area, possibly affecting road conditions.

Meanwhile, a resident who only identified herself as “Sonia” and who, she said, lives “further inside Krome,” noted that “we have the right to have peace of mind.”

In contrast to these opinions, Guzmán stressed that at this time the agritourism activities in Miami-Dade are in a “very gray area” because “there is not much information”. “With this ordinance—if approved—there will be more clarity, since it incorporates recreation and entertainment activities in an agricultural environment,” he stressed.

He noted that this line would bring “many jobs” for residents of Homestead and the Redland area.

He cited that there are people who must drive up to 45 minutes or an hour to get to their workplaces, while they could benefit from new jobs in the agricultural district with the entry into force of the new ordinance, which would mean traveling by vehicle. shorter.

Daniela, along with Mercedes and Nelson Guzmán, also highlighted the possibility of increase income from county coffers thanks to agrotourism, after visualizing that line as a “new Miami-Dade tourism offer” for national and international tourism.