About Our Town - History - Demographics
Southwest Ranches History
In the fall of 1996 Pembroke Pines introduced a proposed bill to the Broward County Legislative Delegation to annex into that city all the unincorporated area between Griffin Road to the north, Sheridan Street to the South, Flamingo Road to the east and SR 27 to the west.
Hundreds of citizens from that unincorporated area, known as the Southwest Ranches, packed the Delegation hearing in November of 1996 held at Pembroke Pines City Hall to protest this attempted takeover and to call for the right to form their own city. As a result of this grassroots effort, the State Legislature passed a bill in the 1997 session calling for a vote of the citizens of Southwest Ranches in March of 2000. At that time, voters would have three choices. They could vote to annex into either Pembroke Pines or Davie or vote to become a new city.
Southwest Ranches Homeowners Association was an umbrella group composed of individual homeowners associations in the Southwest Ranches area. Anyone belonging to an individual homeowners association was also automatically a member of Southwest Ranches Homeowners Association, with full voting rights. In the summer of 1997, SWRHA members agreed to actively promote incorporation of a new city for the area and formed Southwest Ranches Homeowners Association Political Committee to explore this option. A feasibility committee was appointed to determine if a new city would be viable. They would have to know if revenues would be adequate to cover the costs of running a city. Dr. Milan Dluhy of Florida International University was contacted and asked to complete a formal feasibility study. Dr. Dluhy had produced many such studies for groups which subsequently became successful cities. The feasibility committee also contacted Moyer and Associates, the company which provides contract services to Weston.
The feasibility committee determined that a contract city would be the best option. Contracting would allow the city access to experienced professionals without having to hire these individuals on a full-time basis. This would save taxpayers money and avoid many costly capital expenses. Moyer and Associates provided the feasibility committee and Dr. Dluhy with financial information on which to base estimates of both income and expenses. The committee also considered the figures provided by the PMG study. PMG is the company which was hired by Broward County to conduct a study comparing the costs of Pembroke Pines and Davie to the costs of being incorporated into a new city.
On July 3, 1999, the Southwest Ranches Homeowners Association sponsored a parade and picnic to declare the area's independence. Speakers at the event included then Senator Howard Forman, Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, County Commissioner Lori Parrish, Sheriff Ken Jenne, and Weston's Mayor Harry Rosen. The event was a huge success!
The bill passed by the Legislature in 1997 authorized the vote in 2000 to determine if residents wanted to annex or form their own city. If the vote was for a new city, a charter was to be drawn up and an election forming the city held in 2001. Leaders realized, however, that if a charter could be drawn up sooner, it could be approved in 2000 and the city formed a year earlier, which would be financially beneficial to the residents. A charter committee was formed to draw up a charter. The committee met almost weekly during July, 1999 and August, 1999, and formulated a new charter, using the Weston charter as a boilerplate.
A contest was held to name the Town, and 122 different names were submitted. A vote was held on October 12, 1999 to select one of the top five names, and Southwest Ranches won. Southwest Ranches Homeowners Association members voted to move forward and request a local bill to allow incorporation in 2000 instead of 2001, and the bill was approved by the Legislature. On March 14, 2000, residents voted overwhelmingly to form a new Town rather than be annexed.
The most contentious issue during charter committee meetings was whether or not to have districts. The majority of members felt that Council Members should be elected at-large; that is, any qualified candidate could run for a seat, no matter where that individual lived. Some felt that candidates should only be able to run if they lived in one of four districts. When the election to approve the charter was held on June 6, 2000, the issue was put to a vote; and the majority of voters selected districts. Council Members were elected on July 25, 2000, and the Town was officially in business.
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