Key Biscayne files lawsuit over Miami show plans

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The town of Key Biscayne, Fla., filed a lawsuit last week against the city of Miami over the city’s decision to redevelop the Miami Marine Stadium grounds to host the Miami International Boat Show next year.

The Miami City Commission voted in early January to enter into a license agreement with the National Marine Manufacturers Association to bring the boat show to Virginia Key.

Under the agreement, the city will make as much as $16 million worth of improvements to the undeveloped land east of the stadium to host the boat show during Presidents Day weekend, starting in February 2016.

Miami officials have publicly said they don’t know how else that property will be used during most of the year when the boat show is not in town. But Key Biscayne leaders worry that the city’s large investment in the planned outdoor event space means it will hold multiple events a year and worsen traffic and safety issues on the Rickenbacker Causeway, according to the Miami Herald.

As expected, the village voted to file the lawsuit two weeks ago after officials said their requests to discuss the redevelopment plans and the village’s concerns were ignored.

“For two months, we were diligent in communicating with Miami,” Key Biscayne Mayor Mayra Lindsay told the paper. “We tried to be good neighbors and facilitate our being involved. Unfortunately, that did not get us far.”

The village plans to halt the proceedings and enter into mediation. On Monday morning, the council agreed to start the conflict resolution process.

“We are putting the city of Miami on notice that this is moving forward,” Lindsay said.

John Shubin, a land-use lawyer hired to represent the village, said no order to stay the proceedings has been entered because no judge has been assigned to the case. The complaint was filed Friday afternoon.

According to the complaint, turning the area that surrounds the Marine Stadium into an event and exhibition space violates Miami’s Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan, the Miami 21 Zoning Code and the 1963 Marine Stadium Deed.

A city’s comprehensive plan sets goals for community development. Miami’s Future Land Use Map, which is part of the comprehensive plan, designates the Marine Stadium as public parks and recreation. The comprehensive plan defines public parks and recreation spaces as having “passive and active recreational and cultural uses.”

According to the complaint, using the property as a commercial event venue violates the comprehensive plan because the property won’t be used for recreational or cultural purposes.

The city’s zoning code categorized the Marine Stadium as a civic space. The zoning code defines civic space as “a zone with mainly outdoor area dedicated for functioning for community purposes.” According to the complaint, commercial use of the property is not permitted under the civic space classification.

In March 1963, Miami-Dade County deeded the city of Miami a 61-acre portion of Virginia Key to “be perpetually used and maintained for the operation of a Marine Stadium and allied purposes only.”

The definition of “allied purposes” is up for debate, but the complaint said that commercializing the property is not an allied purpose and violates deed restrictions. Miami City Attorney Victoria Mendez did not respond to the Herald’s requests for comment Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the NMMA is moving ahead with plans to hold the 2016 boat show there, NMMA president Thom Dammrich has told Trade Only.

“Anybody who participates is going to have to rethink their whole approach to the show, just like we’re rethinking how the whole show is presented,” Dammrich told Trade Only in late January.

“People are focusing on the show coming up soon, and we’ll be getting all the information out there about 2016,” he says. “We’ll have a display and a lot of information available this February in Miami about what things will look like. There will be site drawings. It’ll be pretty clear.”


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