HOA General Membership Meeting 2019

The Skylake Highland Lakes Area HOA will be holding a general membership meeting on Wednesday, June 26th at Highland Oaks Park building at 7 PM. We are expecting many of our local government officials to attend including representatives from Miami-Dade Police, Kent Security, Commissioner Heyman’s office, State Senator Pizzo’s office and State Rep. Watson’s office among others.

We will also have Miami Dade code enforcement, Miami Dade Special Taxing District and a county representative discussing Airbnb’s. Gate pass applications will be available for those who need them from the Special Taxing District.

If you haven’t already paid your 2019 dues, or are not yet a member, we will be accepting applications at the meeting. Please help spread the word about this meeting to your friends and neighbors who might not be on social media.

LED Conversion Street Lighting Special Taxing Districts

LED Conversion Street Lighting In Special Taxing Districts

Miami Dade County is committed to a brighter future for our area! Together with FPL, they are working to brighten up our streets for those evening strolls with new LED lighting.

The Special Assessment Districts Division has partnered with Florida Power & Light to convert special taxing lighting districts current street lights to equivalent LED energy efficient street lights. The conversion to LED lights offers many advantages.

LED lights are more energy efficient providing a reduction in energy usage and are more dependable lowering maintenance costs. They have a higher color rendering index which makes it easier to differentiate colors at night and are more directional, which reduces light pollution. The conversion of 903 special taxing lighting districts throughout Miami-Dade County will be done in four phases and is expected to be completed by 2021 or sooner.

Below please find the special tax lighting districts within Commission District 4 that FPL has informed us they are working on converting to LED.

L-0016 Enchanted Lake
L-0027 Sky Lake
L-0042 Highland Sparling
L-0047 Sabal Palm

For more information, contact the Special Assessment District Division at (305-375-2702) or by email at stdp@miamidade.gov; also, you can go to miamidade.gov/parks/assessment-districts.asp.

Change in Leadership at the SkyHigh HOA

Breaking News: Change In Leadership at the SkyHigh HOA

Dearest Neighbors and HOA Members,

We are sad to announce the resignation of Mr. Steve Parkins from his position as HOA President. Mr. Parkins has accepted an exciting job offer which will take him and his family out of state. We thank Mr. Parkins for his service and wish him all the best.

By unanimous vote, Rick Schermer, former Chairperson of the Security & CERT Committee, has been elected as President for the remainder of the calendar year. Mr. Schermer has been involved with the HOA for five years and has been an invaluable member bringing with him vast knowledge in leadership.

Board member Pablo Barreiro, Co-Chairperson of the Security & CERT Committee will now assume the Chairperson position.

Please join me in congratulating Mr. Schermer on his election, Mr. Parkins on his new adventures, and Mr. Barreiro in his new position.

We look forward to seeing everyone at the upcoming general membership meeting on June 26th, 2019 at 7PM at the Highland Oaks Park building.

On behalf of the SkyHigh HOA,
Erica Chao
Communications Chair

Slow Down! Speed Hump Installations Start April 27th in Highland Lakes.

For years, the residents have been asking for traffic dampening measures. We’ve been asking for a way to discourage through traffic routed from Ives Dairy. We’ve been asking for a way to slow the speeders endangering our children. We’ve been asking for a way to reduce Stop sign runners.

Beginning April 27th, speed humps will be installed in the locations on the map below. These locations were chosen by a team of county engineers following in-depth analysis. It will take approximately four weeks to complete.

We know that many of you will rejoice. We also know that some of you will not be pleased. We have been told that the design being used are low humps (vs. Bumps) and will have no impact on a vehicle’s suspension if traversed at a slow rate of speed–which is the whole point.

Once again, we’d like to thank all the volunteers of the HOA and Commissioner Sally Heyman who made this possible.

Work Zone Starting June 2nd – NE 26th Ave & NE 209th Ter

There will be a widening of NE 26th Avenue at NE 209th street to mitigate the traffic congestion at the Highland Lakes back gate caused by Aventura Waterways school. Work begins the weekend of June 2nd.

This is another accomplishment of your Sky Lake-Highland Lakes Area HOA brought to you by the incessant efforts of board member, Bill Clayton.

Bill’s perseverance in the face of county bureaucracy is a wonder to behold. This traffic improvement is just the latest of his successes, on behalf of your Area HOA Traffic and Infrastructure Committee.

Thank you Bill!

Two Community Security Meetings In April – Allow Us To Address Your Concerns!

The Sky Lake Highland Lakes HOA Security Committee will be holding two neighborhood security meetings. 

  • The first meeting, which is for residents south of Ives Dairy Road, will take place Tuesday April 2nd from 6:30-8:30 PM at Highland Oaks Park.  
  • The second meeting, which is for residents north of Ives Dairy Road, is scheduled for Wednesday April 10 6:30-8:30 PM at Highland Oaks Park as well. 

The focus of these meetings is to discuss each areas unique challenges and concerns and come up with possible solutions. 

Representatives from Miami-Dade Police and Kent Security will attend both meetings, and Trooper Sanchez from FHP is expected to attend the south of Ives meeting to discuss the Oak Forest Roving District.

Please feel free to pass this information onto your friends and neighbors who might not be on social media or aware of our website.

Community News Update July 17, 2016

Our latest newsletter is out!  Click here to read it in its entirety, or read below for highlights….

There is no such thing as a summer slow-dow when it comes to advocating for our community!  Here’s the latest:
  • MAC/Incorporation: Last month’s Public Hearing of the Municipal Advisory Committee (MAC) saw passionate sentiments from pro- and against-incorporation residents.  The HOA’s current position is that a vote should be held to let the residents decide. We urge everyone to come to the next Public Hearing on Thursday, July 21, 6-8pm, Highland Oaks Middle School to ask the MAC to Let Us Vote. The MAC is approaching their vote on whether or not to allow an election – it is critical that residents attend and speak in favor of allowing a vote to happen. 
  • FDOT Plan for US 1/Ives Dairy Overpass: We had a great turnout from our neighborhood to the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) Public Hearing regarding their proposed plan to re-configure the Ives Dairy/US 1 interchange. Despite our strong objections that doing so would destroy 25 small businesses as well as other concerns, FDOT decided to move forward with their plan. However, as a result of HOA lobbying efforts, Florida State Rep. Barbara Watson and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman are pushing for design modifications.  We expect to hear the results of those efforts very soon. The HOA Board will review legal options if all else fails.
  • Lane Changes: As a result of HOA efforts, the south-bound lanes leaving the main Highland Lakes gate have been modified as follows:
    • Left Lane: Left turn only
    • Center Lane: Straight or right turn
    • Right Lane: Right turn only

 

We believe that this modification will alleviate traffic backup during school season.

Bright Lights, New City? Biscayne Times, July 2016

Bright Lights, New City? Print
Written By Erik Bojnansky, BT Senior Writer
JULY 2016

SIDES LINE UP AS RESIDENTS EYE COSTS, BENEFITS OF INCORPORATION

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Unincorporated Ojus is growing: The 400-unit apartment community Gables Aventura is under construction at NE 202nd Street and Miami Gardens Drive. BT photos by Erik Bojnansky

or 13 years activists from several neighborhoods between Aventura, North Miami Beach, I-95, and the Broward County line have been debating if they should unite and form their own city.Now pro-cityhood activists want to hold a referendum, as early as March 2017, to create the newest city in Miami-Dade County. But before that can happen, the referendum must be endorsed first by the Northeast Miami-Dade Municipal Advisory Committee (MAC), then the county’s Planning Advisory Board, and finally by the Miami-Dade County Commission.

The next Northeast MAC meeting will likely be held in late July at the Highland Oaks Middle School auditorium, says Jorge Fernandez, the county’s office of management and budget coordinator.

As of 2014, according to the U.S. Census, 18,761 people lived within this 3.3-square-mile area that includes Sky Lake, Highland Lakes, Ojus, and various other subdivisions where municipal services are handled by Miami-Dade County. The area includes condominiums, single-family homes, and retail strip malls. Within this area, a 400-unit apartment community called Gables Aventura is being built at NE 202nd Street and Miami Gardens Drive.

Not too far away from this future community, the Florida Department of Transportation wants to build another flyover at Ives Dairy Road and W. Dixie Highway. (See “Overhead and Under Fire,” May 2016.)

The Census Bureau refers to this region as the Ojus CDP (Census Designated Place), after the town that existed there from 1926 to 1936. Most locals, however, limit the “Ojus” moniker to the W. Dixie Highway corridor and reject it as a name for their city. Other floated suggestions include Highland Oaks, West Aventura, and Aventura Oaks.

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David Promoff of Enchanted Lake with Alan Hecht and José Klahr of Highland Lakes handing out T-shirts prior to the June 21 Northeast MAC meeting.

Lenny Feldman, former president of the Sky Lake-Highland Lakes Area Homeowners Association, says it isn’t even clear if his community will incorporate as a city. “It’s a very emotional and critical issue,” says Feldman, a Highland Lakes resident. “People have strong opinions on both sides.”There are plenty of people who want to keep the status quo. The June 21 Northeast MAC meeting was attended by dozens of residents and property owners, and those who spoke against cityhood (many of whom claimed to be speaking on behalf of condo associations) outnumbered those in favor of it.

Gerard Moss, a 94-year-old Sky Lake resident who sits on the Northeast MAC, is on the anti-incorporation side. Moss insists most people are satisfied with the services they’re receiving from the county.

“If you need the police, they come right away,” Moss says. “I don’t think we need another level of government. What do I need another mayor or another city attorney for? It’ll cost another million dollars of overhead.”

Kenneth Friedman, chairman of the Northeast MAC, is a cityhood advocate. He counters that many of his neighbors are dissatisfied with the services and representation they receive at the county, and says that most anti-incorporation critics are “negative thinkers” who see the glass as half empty.

An April report by the consultancy PMG Associates states that the Ojus CDP can run a city with a $9 million operating budget without raising property taxes, fines, or fees. Hypothetical expenditures for this future city will be $8.5 million, with $4.9 million of that amount spent on police, from the Miami-Dade Police Department.

“We can’t, for the first three years, own our own police,” Friedman admits, citing county law for new cities. However, the new city can hire dedicated MDPD patrols, he says.

Alicia Perez Rook, an outspoken critic of incorporation, insists that the budget not only doesn’t include the cost of building a new city hall, it also omits a county exit fee that could reach as high as $1 million.

“Taxes will go higher,” predicts Rook, a Sky Lake resident. “They have to go higher. They have to pay for and maintain a new city.”

The Ojus CDP is just one part of a noncontiguous 208-square-mile territory where 1.1 million people reside. Known as the unincorporated municipal service area, these neighborhoods lie outside Miami-Dade County’s 34 municipalities.

Currently a property tax rate of 1.9283 mills, or $1.93 per $1000 of a property’s assessed value, is charged by the county within unincorporated areas for most city-like services, such as police, code enforcement, and garbage collection. That’s a far lower tax rate than most cities in Miami-Dade County, except for Doral (1.9 mills) and Aventura (1.7 mills).

Yet it’s unclear how much longer such unincorporated property tax rates can be maintained. Richard Friedman (no relation to Kenneth Friedman), a resident of the unincorporated Moors community just outside Miami Lakes, served on the county’s Annexation and Incorporation Review Task Force in 2013. During his tenure, Friedman learned that while the county’s elected officials have been reluctant to raise taxes, Miami-Dade’s infrastructure is crumbling.

“The current tax rates are artificially low as a way of maintaining favor with constituents,” he says.

That budget crunch will grow worse if more areas incorporate. Besides the Northeast MAC, seven other MACs are looking at turning their respective unincorporated regions into cities. Friedman predicts it’ll be the wealthy regions that bolt first. “Their taxation rate, their property values, allow them to charge at a lot lower tax rate than poorer areas,” he says.

If wealthy regions, like Kendall in south Miami-Dade, become cities, the county will have no choice but to slash services or raise property taxes of whatever unincorporated areas remain, Richard Friedman adds.

Whether or not Kendall becomes a city, Eugene Stearns, an attorney involved in the incorporation efforts of Key Biscayne and Aventura in the early 1990s, argues that Ojus CDP residents would be better off forming their own municipality.

Stearns asserts that tax money earmarked for an unincorporated community is pillaged “with great zeal” by county officials for countywide services like the Miami-Dade Transit bus system. Incorporated cities can also do a far better job providing services and addressing local issues than the county’s government can, Stearns insists. “Local governments,” he says, “are more efficient at providing a quality level of service at a lower cost than the county can.”

Former HOA president Lenny Feldman admits he’s leaning toward incorporation as a means of amplifying the community’s voice on matters like the proposed new flyover at Ives Dairy Road or public school construction, but only if there are guarantees that the new city government won’t overtax the residents on wasteful projects or bloated government pensions.

“If we’re able to make sure there’s responsible fiscal management,” Feldman says, “then there could be benefits to cityhood for a community like ours.”

Marc Hurwitz, the current president of the Sky Lake-Highland Lakes HOA, says his group has taken a neutral stance on the issue of cityhood. The group does, however, want a referendum. Proclaims Hurwitz: “The people should be allowed to vote on this as soon as possible.”

Adopt-a-Tree Event at FIU Biscayne Bay Campus

Miami-Dade County Division of Environmental Resources Management (DERM) will be giving FREE trees to the community through its popular Adopt-a-Tree Program.

Come to the Adopt-a-Tree Event on Sunday,  June 26th, from 9am until Noon at FIU Biscayne Bay Campus- 3000 NE 151 Street, North Miami,  FL 33181.

Residents eligible to adopt trees will be able to choose from Mango (only 1 per household), Carambola, Mulberry, Pigeon Plum, and Dahoon Holly. However, tree quantities are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Participants will be required to fill out a “Registration Form” available at the event. Some restrictions apply – for information on rules, eligibility, tree information, and community service hours for those who would like to volunteer, please visit the Adopt-a-Tree webpage.

Also at this event, the Miami-Dade County Water & Sewer Department will exchange up to 3 incandescent light bulbs for high efficiency compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), as well as, 2 high efficiency shower heads to those residents who bring their old shower heads and/or their most heavily used regular light bulbs to exchange at the event (while supplies last). The Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department will also have pets there available for adoption. For more information call 311.

For more information on the Adopt-a-Tree Program, email adoptatree@miamidade.gov or call 305-372-6784.