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Puerto Rico-Based Ministry To Build In Pembroke Pines…Foreign Influx Lifts Population In Broward County

Puerto Rico-Based Ministry To Build In Pembroke Pines

By Joe Kollin

APRIL 20, 2003
Copyright © 2003 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. All rights reserved.

PEMBROKE PINES · A Puerto Rico-based ministry will build a church on an almost landlocked 5 acres that remained undeveloped during the city's homebuilding boom of the 1990s.

There were numerous attempts to buy the property from a Chicago-area couple who bought it for $16,500 in 1969. But the couple wouldn't sell the melaleuca-covered tract, which from the air looks like an island of nature sticking out in a sea of development.

Environmentalists for a brief time hailed the owners as heroes for refusing to sell out to surrounding developers, including the builders of the 1,186-home Pembroke Shores project that at the time was going up on three sides of the tract, which is south of Pines Boulevard and east of Southwest 172nd Avenue.

The couple rejected the title, however. The only reason they hadn't sold, they said, was that they didn't want to pay the federal government a huge capital gains tax bill on their profit.

Also wanting the property was the city, which could have used it to expand the 40-acre, $4 million Pembroke Shores Park it was building southwest of the land. The Broward County school district also would have liked it; the board owned the property to the east and northeast, using most of it for the Flanagan High School annex.

The only access to the property is a 30-foot-wide, two-lane road between the tract and 172nd Avenue that is more like a driveway. The school district voluntarily provided the easement for the property.

In 1998, when Congress lowered the long-term capital gains tax from 28 to 20 percent, the owners put the property on the market for $400,000 and, in October 2000, the couple sold it for $350,000 to Concilio Mision Cristiana Fuente de Agua Viva, a ministry based in Carolina, Puerto Rico, according to county property records.

On April 2, the Pembroke Pines City Commission, without debate, unanimously approved the design plans for a 27,297-square-foot church on the property, even though the only access will be the easement. More than a dozen supporters applauded the vote.

The approval allows the building to include classrooms, but doesn't allow a day care center. The church will provide 134 parking spaces, one more than required by code. It will have two signs, with neither on a main road. One will be on the building; another will be at the southwest corner of the land.

The ministry operates churches throughout the country, including one in nearby Davie. Others are in Atlanta; Orlando; Chicago; San Antonio; Central Islip, N.Y.; and Falls Church, Va.

Foreign Influx Lifts Population

New Immigrants Make Up More Than Half Of The Growth In Broward County


APRIL 17, 2003
Copyright © 2003 THE MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved.

For the first time, more than half of Broward County's population growth came from outside the United States, according to the latest figures from the Census Bureau.

All told, Broward picked up about 36,000 new residents last year, bringing its total population to just over 1.7 million people. But this 2.1 percent jump was actually the smallest annual increase the county has seen in years.

The county has averaged about a 2.5 percent growth rate for the past decade.

These facts are among the highlights from the Census Bureau's new population estimates for the 12-month period that ended last July 1. The bureau released the figures today.

Increasingly, Broward's newcomers are coming from foreign countries. In 1998, for the first time, new immigrants outnumbered newcomers from elsewhere in the United States. But last year is the first in which new immigrants outnumbered domestic newcomers and natural growth -- births minus deaths -- combined.

Planners expect that trend to continue. Once a given nationality becomes established in an area, it becomes a natural destination for family and friends from back home. The actual pace of foreign immigration may be hard to predict, however, because it is heavily influenced by political and economic conditions in other countries.

Mariela Osorio and her husband, Edwin Carrasquero, are typical. They moved from Caracas, Venezuela, to western Miramar after they were robbed at gunpoint three times in their country. But when it came time to decide where in the United States to move to, they weighed the same kinds of things most Americans would consider.

''We had family in Broward, and we thought it was more attractive to us than Dade because it's less crowded,'' Osorio said in Spanish.

The new figures do not show which countries the immigrants are coming from. But the 2000 Census found that the most common countries were Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba, Colombia and Puerto Rico, which the Census sometimes treats as a separate country even though it's a commonwealth of the United States.

In Miami-Dade, the new figures showed that the county's population had hit 2.3 million -- up 1.6 percent from the previous year. The county gained a whopping 50,000 new immigrants. But the number of Miami-Dade residents who moved out of the county exceeded the number of people who moved in from other U.S. counties by 28,000.

The new figures also pushed Broward up a notch in the ranking of the largest counties in the nation. Previous figures had ranked Broward No. 15. But this year, Broward passed Santa Clara County, Calif., to take the No. 14 spot.

Since 1990, Broward's annual growth rate has been between 2.1 and 2.9 percent every year except 1993 -- the year after Hurricane Andrew. That year, the growth rate jumped to 3.6 percent as thousands of Miami-Dade residents chose to rebuild in Broward after their old homes were destroyed by the storm.

Planners expect Broward's population growth to slow down in the years to come for the simple reason that there's no more vacant land left. Future growth will have to come not in the form of new single-family homes on the edge of the Everglades but as a result of new condominiums in the eastern half of the county.

State planners expect the county's population to grow an average of 1.85 percent through 2010, and an average of 1.65 percent from 2010 to 2020. That would boost the county's population to almost 2.3 million by the end of that period.

The Census Bureau's annual population estimates are used by the federal government to distribute money to states, and by state and local governments to plan for future needs.

In Florida, however, state agencies use separate figures compiled by the University of Florida's Bureau of Business and Economic Research to determine local shares of sales tax and other state aid.

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