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Judge dismisses Key Biscayne lawsuit against NMMA

Lawsuit that Key Biscayne filed against the NMMA was part of an ongoing effort to block the Miami International Boat Show’s move to Miami Marine Stadium.

A lawsuit that Key Biscayne filed against the National Marine Manufacturers Association as part of an ongoing effort to block the Miami International Boat Show’s move to Miami Marine Stadium and its surrounding area was dismissed.

Circuit Court Judge Antonio Marin ordered that the suit filed in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court be dismissed per a motion from the NMMA.

On April 10 Key Biscayne demanded that the NMMA produce all of its records related to a license agreement between the trade group and the city of Miami, citing Florida’s Public Records Act.

The NMMA rejected the request seven days later on the basis that it is not subject to the public records law. The village sued to compel disclosure on April 22 and amended its complaint on Nov. 5. That day, the NMMA moved to dismiss the case.

“This motion was heard on November 16, 2015, and since the village does not show that NMMA is the city’s agent, and thus subject to FPRA, the motion is granted,” Marin said in the dismissal order.

"We are pleased that the court agreed with the NMMA and dismissed the village of Key Biscayne's lawsuit,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in an emailed statement. “The court rejected each of the arguments advanced by the village. The NMMA plans to continue its preparation and we look forward to celebrating the 2016 Miami International Boat Show at Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin.”

Yachts Miami Beach — formerly known as the Yacht & Brokerage Show in Miami Beach — has completely separate ownership and is not affected by the legal dispute between the NMMA and Key Biscayne. Although many attendees assumed the two shows were one and the same, they have always been separately owned and operated.

Yachts Miami Beach will be held along Collins Avenue, as always, and at the Island Gardens Deep Harbour superyacht marina on Watson Island. It will be the only boat show that takes place in Miami Beach.

Key Biscayne leadership has long opposed the Miami International Boat Show’s move to the land on Virginia Key, saying it will congest traffic and create parking hassles for Key Biscayne residents, and that it threatens the environment.

After elected officials for the village showed up at a Miami-Dade County Commission meeting, commissioners opted to delay a decision on issuing a permit to the NMMA needed for the in-water portion of the show.

The village held a forum Wednesday night, inviting people from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the press to further question the show’s environmental impact. Boat show vice president Cathy Rick-Joule, as well as dock and marine people, were on hand to listen in, NMMA spokeswoman Ellen Hopkins Bradley said.

“We prepared a press release to have on hand,” Hopkins Bradley told Trade Only. “There weren’t any media that showed up, so we didn’t share it, but we are sending it out later today to set the record straight about the misinformation out there about the environment that has been issued by the village of Key Biscayne.”

The press release admonished Key Biscayne leaders for putting at risk thousands of Miamians employed by the show, including local electricians, laborers, hospitality and catering staff, manufacturing plant workers and small-business owners.

“Key Biscayne leaders are spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on lawsuits and negative PR to prevent the show from moving to — and activating — Miami’s long-underutilized Marine Stadium Park and Basin,” stated the release, which is embargoed in full until this evening.

“Key Biscayne leaders, driven by the possibility of being inconvenienced by show-related traffic for a few days a year, are sharing misinformation about the show’s environmental impact to advance their cause,” it stated. “In their tireless efforts to sink the boat show, Key Biscayne leaders have not let the facts get in the way of the environmental tall tale that they are selling to county residents.”

The statement goes on to dispute several environmental allegations that the village is making and says the basin is not in an environmentally protected or sensitive area.

“The basin itself is man-made: It was created by dredging and was subsequently used for powerboat races and concerts,” the statement said. “During a two-day independent marine survey by Coastal Systems International of the submerged lands adjacent to the Marine Stadium — and beneath the proposed area for the show’s floating docks — researchers found minimal seagrasses on the submerged floor of the basin.”

The statement also disputes traffic, parking, and funding allegations. For example, it said there will be a dedicated traffic lane on the Rickenbacker Causeway in both directions for local vehicles only.

It also disputes the assertion that Miami taxpayers are paying $20 million to move the boat show, saying the city is investing about $20 million to make necessary improvements for the area, which will be turned into a year-round public flex park.

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