If not for conjecture and what-if questions about the proposed aquatic center, the special council meeting this past Monday night (March 31) would have been over in five minutes. After a round of Cuban coffee for all council members, the meeting started on time with two people in the audience and no one signed up to speak in open forum.
Councilman Jaime Petralanda’s financial questions were answered by City Manager Ron Gorland and Finance Director William Alonso and then the council voted unanimously to go forward with hiring a consultant for a new aquatic center.
Then Gorland read the other issue that was on the agenda for the special meeting.
Basically, the vote was on a proposal to authorize Paul Savage, attorney for Springs on the Green, to represent the city in litigation of a recent lawsuit filed by six citizens to halt the upcoming April 8 election to decide whether the city can sell a slice of the Miami Springs Golf Course.
The motion passed unanimously without discussion and the meeting was adjourned. The vote also ensured that the city will incur no expenses related to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed on March 25 and claimed that the city had violated its charter by intending to sell golf course property to a private developer. The suit quotes portions of the city charter and claimed that management had entered into an agreement to sell the property to Springs on the Green. Among other issues, the suit claimed that the city neglected to hold public hearings or properly inform the citizens.
City management has never disputed discussing selling a sliver of the golf course for construction of a hotel on Eldron Drive. However, City Attorney Jan Seiden said the city is doing nothing that violates the charter and is saving money in the process.
According to Seiden, the charter says the city is proceeding the correct way. He said expenses fall on the developer.
Said Seiden: “Sub-section 5 says that no section of the golf course property shall be leased for any period in excess of five years, rezoned, sold or otherwise conveyed, without first being approved by a qualified majority of voters. ‘Without being approved by the voters’ should be clear. If the voters don’t want it, we’re done without spending any money.”
After the meeting, Mayor Zavier Garcia said, “I think the lawsuit is frivolous, but I’ll let the judges decide.”
“At the moment, a motion hasn’t been filed in court,” said Seiden. “Unless the court hears the issue and decides otherwise, we’ll go ahead with the voting.”