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Maritime Law--Key Biscayne Sues Again Over Miami's Plan for Marine Stadium

It is reported that less than two weeks after agreeing to try to hammer out a deal, Key Biscayne has filed a third lawsuit over Miami's plan to redevelop Virginia Key. The June 25th petition filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court is looking to push back the construction that the City of Miami is pursuing around the decaying Miami Marine Stadium.

In one corner, Miami plans to spend $16 million to turn the entrance and several vacant parcels next to the waterfront stadium into a "flex park" capable of hosting large events. Because some of the construction is on historically designated stadium grounds, the City obtained a special dispensation from the historic preservation board and the City Commission in May.

In the other corner, the Village of Key Biscayne maintains that the special dispensation was improvidently granted. The Village claims Miami officials prevented the board from hearing evidence about future uses in violation of Miami's own code. Key Biscayne also claims permission was rushed and lacked all the needed documentation, and the Miami city attorney's office showed bias during the hearing to approve the permit. This latest lawsuit is the Village's third court action over redevelopment of the stadium and surrounding land.

The Miami Marine Stadium, a 1963 marine amphitheater on Biscayne Bay, has been a venue of major contention. Last November, the nonprofit group Friends of Miami Marine Stadium was working behind the scenes to push a plan to renovate the stadium. The non-profit failed to consult Key Biscayne politicians before they held a glitzy event announcing the stadium renovation, which of course, prompted outrage from the politicians who feared a large development on the stadium site. 

Then in February, Key Biscayne filed a complaint in Miami-Dade Circuit Court after the City of Miami independently pushed plans to redevelop the stadium site and bring the Miami International Boat Show there as an anchor tenant. Key Biscayne sought an emergency injunction when Miami began preliminary site work with the lawsuit pending.

On April 22nd, the Village filed a second lawsuit against the boat show operator. Key Biscayne has portrayed a boat show on Virginia Key as a traffic and environmental catastrophe. It does not help that contractors doing preliminary work in the basin near the stadium chopped down hundreds of square feet of protected mangroves.

Now this latest lawsuit could affect a scheduled mediation that is supposed to be taking place between the City and the Village. The public comments made by the Village is that the lawsuit was not intended to affect the mediation but was filed to avoid missing the 30-day deadline for challenging the City's action in the Circuit Court. It is true that there is a 30-day deadline to challenge administrative actions. It is reported that some politicians at the City of Miami may now be "back pedaling" due to the "intrusiveness" of the proposed project. Both sides state that the stadium should be renovated, but they are bitterly divided on how this should be done.
Those of us that rely on the marine industry hope that the politicians can work through this for the benefit of the industry.
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