A controversial industrial project planned for development outside Miami-Dade County’s urban development boundary may be in question once again.
Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity just sent a letter to the county saying Miami-Dade erred in how it handled the approval process, potentially requiring a re-vote with a new commission on the South Dade Logistics and Technology District project.
(Click here to view the letter from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to Miami-Dade County regarding the procedures followed in approving a change to the Urban Development Boundary.)
“It’s not super clear,” Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said. “There was some suggestion that maybe some of the rules hadn’t been followed. I’m waiting on advice from our counsel.”
Paul Schwiep, a lawyer who helped fight the project, said he believes the state is saying the county missed a state-set deadline for submitting information about the project, invalidating the most recent vote.
“They’ll have to start all over,” Schwiep said.
In a statement, the development group said it was surprised by the state’s letter.
“We believe the State may not have been provided all the facts and details on this matter, and look forward to an opportunity to discuss the matter with them. Our team is very confident that when the State is aware of the full public record, its interpretation of the Statute will better align with the facts,” the statement read.
Developers won approval to expand the county’s urban development boundary late last year after a grueling process of multiple deferred votes, a veto from Levine Cava and a combative final hearing in front of a commission that voted to allow the project, despite mounting environmental and legal concerns.
Environmental advocates immediately challenged the approval, which would allow the redevelopment of farmland south of Florida’s Turnpike and north of Moody Drive into a 380-acre mix of warehouses, call centers and other commercial uses.
They say the project eats up valuable land that is earmarked for Everglades restoration projects, would lead to more pollution into Biscayne Bay and increase development in a region extremely vulnerable to flooding and storm surge.
The prospective developers won four separate deferrals from the county commission, which prompted the commission to pass a new rule that applications could only be deferred three times. Advocates say the repeated deferrals could be why the county missed the 180-day window to submit the approved UDB expansion to the state.
“The applicant abused the system,” said Laura Reynolds, of the Hold the Line Coalition. “They wouldn’t take no for an answer. The window’s there to protect the public from stale information.”
View the Miami Herald news video ‘What Is The Urban Development Boundary And Why Is It A Point Of contention In Miami-Dade?‘ below.