River Cities Gazette

Miami Springs

Opponents file lawsuit to stop sale of parking lot beside Miami Springs Golf Course


Special to the Miami Herald

Six Miami Springs residents have filed a lawsuit to halt the city’s April 8 special election, in which voters are scheduled to decide whether to authorize the City Council to sell and rezone a 10,299-square-foot parcel adjoining a golf course for $115,000.

The 25-page lawsuit names Miami-Dade County Elections Supervisor Penelope Townsley and the city of Miami Springs as defendants, seeks an order that would stop the April 8 election, claiming:

• The “ballot title and summary are false and misleading.”

• “The city has not complied with the Charter conditions precedent contained in Section 1.04(1) before seeking voter approval to sell the property”

• “The city lacks authority to sell and/or re-zone the property because it has not obtained approval from the city of Miami as required by its deed.”

• “The question being presented to the voters is in the nature of a prohibited “straw vote” because the city’s deed to the property does not allow or authorize the sale or the re-zoning in the absence of approval by the city of Miami.”

“The April 8 ballot question is not simply a ‘sliver of land,’ according to a website recently created by the opposing residents to support their position. “Instead it is a substantial portion of our public golf course open space lands which is of tremendous value to the residents of Miami Springs.”

Both sides have also created political action committees and the issue of whether to sell any property abutting the golf course has sharply divided the suburban city of 14,000 people.

Manuel Perez-Vichot, a local architect, wants to build a 110-room hotel on the site, a parking lot in the 600 block of Eldron Drive, next to the city’s golf course.

“The sale of the subject 10,300 square-foot sliver of land does not, and will not set a precedent,” wrote Perez, in a March 23 email to the Herald. “It is a unique piece of land never part of the golf course.”

The purchase price was established by two “independent commercial appraisals” and the investment in the hotel venture will exceed $11 million, wrote Vichot.

The city charter requires that the sale of golf course land, which was purchased from the city of Miami in 1997, must be approved by the voters through a referendum.

This question will appear on the ballot:

"Shall the city council be authorized to sell and rezone the 10,299 square foot (less than a quarter of an acre) of golf course property adjacent to the former James Medical Clinic currently under license agreement as a parking area to proposed contract purchasers for $115,000?"

The special election is scheduled to take place April 8. As of Wednesday morning, no hearing date has been scheduled regarding the lawsuit.

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