History Repeats Itself in Southwest Ranches, NIMBY Capital of Broward County

Categories: Politics
And they have been, for a dozen years.
"The new jail planned for southwest Broward County will go in a barren area where the county puts things that nobody wants," wrote David Fleshler and John Maines at the beginning of a story in the Sun-Sentinel.

At stake was a plan by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a landowner near Southwest Ranches, to build a privately run prison complex near a trash dump and women's prison. That plan has drawn numerous protesters and silence from officials in recent weeks.

But this Sun-Sentinel article isn't recent. It's from March 1998, when the controversies in Southwest Ranches were more or less the same, with one key difference: Southwest Ranches didn't quite exist.

The town would be formed in 2000 from an amalgamation of neighborhoods in unincorporated west Broward, the far reaches of land reclaimed from the Everglades. "The nearest homes are about a half-mile away, in the Southwest Ranches neighborhood," the reporters wrote in 1998 about the prison site.

Not so now. There are homes just a quick dash across Sterling Road from the CCA-owned site. When Southwest Ranches incorporated into a town in 2000, administrators annexed the site as a prospective revenue generator. If this thing that nobody wanted was to be nearby, at least it could be a tax base. A few years later, the town passed a resolution proposing that CCA would give the town a cut of its eventual revenues, as well as $600,000 a year.

That idea lay dormant for a few years, as people filled in the subdivisions, moving closer to the jail site, until this year, when ICE announced that the Southwest Ranches site was the frontrunner for a new detention facility built on the back of the Obama administration's harsh deportation policy.

One difference: In 1998, the jail was slated to hold 764 people. Now, estimates thrown around for the ICE pen are anywhere from 1,500 to 2,200 beds.

Meanwhile, the county is mulling reopening the Southwest Broward Landfill, another bane of not-in-my-backyard residents in Southwest Ranches and Pembroke Pines, to residential trash disposal. That, like the jail, has also been a contentious issue for more than a decade.

"Barren section home to county landfill, prisons," read the 1998 headline, mirroring a Michael Mayo column in the Sun-Sentinel published just last month.

"Dump and prison stir strong feelings," was the headline of Mayo's column, over a dozen years later.

"Two big potential projects -- a privately run federal immigrant detention center and an expanded county garbage dump -- are stirring strong feelings in Southwest Ranches and Pembroke Pines," Mayo wrote.

"Well, this is what the western residents get for living near Institution Alley," he concluded.

And it's been a long time coming.

Stefan Kamph is a New Times staff writer.
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Mike S
Mike S

Technically speaking , America is still a large enough Country with enough open and isolated land such that NOBODY needs to have this sort of thing in their backyards.    The poster above makes a good point, if this was such well publicized eventuality, then why did they allow Residential neighborhoods and 4-5 schools to be built right up to within 0.2 miles of the planned facility ?     When you start out on a wrong road, you end up reaching the wrong destination ----- It was stupid to ever think of putting this kind of crap in one of the nation's fastest growing urban area.


If the whiners don't want a nice big fat prison, then they can buy the land and make it into a cute 'lil swamp park and stock it with alligators, homeless and anacondas, all of which there are a plenitude.  Just buy the property for the fair market value.  But noooo, they want to limit what other people can do with their property.  NIMBYs are merely whining twerps who want something for nothing.


if the government knew this why build 5-7 schools from K to 12 grade in a 5 mile radius from this sites (detention/jail center and dump).  They are putting our kids in alot of danger and enviromental hazard!!!

Bill Di Scipio
Bill Di Scipio

South Broward,

No mention is made by you, that on January 6, 2011 SWR attempted to double the size of the facility and exceed the 1500 beds you are talking about.  They passed 2011-026 http://www.southwestranches.or... which increased the bed count to 2200.  That was their intent.  That is their intent.  It is published and passed resolution, They also need to allow for maximum security prisoners as per ICE's Statement of Objectives.  The plat and the town's resolutions and the existing SWR/CCA contact do not allow for maximum security prisoners.

So, if ICE thinks they can build it today, then they are limited to 1500 beds and no maximum security prisoners.  

CCA should just put up or shut up.  Build the facility and then see if they can arrange a taker.

By the way, does anybody care to know where CCA will get $100MM to develop the land?  It doesn't seem their financials support this.  Are they thinking of having SWR build it?  Why don't Keith Poliakoff and Jeff Nelson tell us what they are planning for SWR?

South Broward
South Broward

Stefan:  Great article.  At least for once someone is properly stating that these homeowners moved next to this site, which has actually been slated for a prision since 1991 (See Sentinel 1991 article on the plat).  Buyer beware!  I guess they should all start calling their relators about what was disclosed when they purchased their homes. 

One point of correction, the site was approved for 1500 beds since it was platted.  No more, no less.  It can hold 1500 today without any further approvals.

Bill Di Scipio
Bill Di Scipio

Really?  This is the extent of the argument of the opposing side?

Folks, CCA and the Town of Southwest Ranches has already bilked the County out of about $60,000 per year according to Channel 10's Bob Norman.

They stand to further rob our children's schools and the county residents of nearly $2.7 million a year with a bogus agriculture exemption.

It seems like this whole project is fueled by federal dollars that we simply don't have, back room deals, and bogus cow renting cheating schools out of a huge amount of money.  Property rights indeed.  You can do better.  You can do better, can't you?

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