Miami

SkyRise opponent sues to block referendum

 

dsmiley@MiamiHerald.com

An activist behind a petition to stop a 1,000-foot tower from being erected on Biscayne Bay filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to invalidate an August referendum on the SkyRise Miami tower and Bayside Marketplace renovations.

Architect Charles Corda said he’s not opposed to voters deciding on the projects. Rather, he said, the Miami City Commission erred last month when it approved a ballot question that asks voters to either support or oppose both the SkyRise tower and Bayside lease extension and amendment.

The question — already being printed on ballots by the county elections department — asks voters if they support 99-year Bayside leases that would bring the city a $10 million upfront payment, require a minimum of $27 million in Bayside improvements, and allow for the development of the privately financed $400 million SkyRise tower.

SkyRise, an entertainment skyscraper, would sublet space from Bayside under the agreement approved by the commission. But Corda said the fine print of the deal shows that the projects are separate and unrelated, and therefore law requires that the question be split in two.

“I oppose the SkyRise project but I don’t oppose the renovation of Bayside,” said Corda, who just last year led a charge against a plan to overhaul the waterfront next to Miami City Hall. “The ballot question as it’s written right now doesn’t give me the option to cast my vote the way I’d like to.”

Commissioners voted last month to place the question on the Aug. 26 ballot at the behest of SkyRise developer Jeff Berkowitz, who said he needs swift approval of the lease agreement to avoid losing investors. But Corda says the ballot language is vague and overstates the value of minimum annual lease payments.

He named both the city of Miami and Elections Supervisor Penelope Townsley as defendants, and has asked for an expedited hearing.

Christina White, chief deputy supervisor of elections, said that the department had not received a copy of the suit, but that absentee and election day ballots were already being printed. “From our perspective, logistically, the question is already on the ballot,” she said.

White said should Corda’s suit succeed, it would likely require that new ballot language go before voters in the following election, in November. But Miami City Attorney Victoria Méndez wrote in an email that she doesn’t think there’s any chance of that happening.

“We do not think it has any merit,” she wrote about the lawsuit.

Read more Breaking News stories from the Miami Herald

  • CUBA

    US report says religious freedom in Cuba is bad but getting better

    A U.S. State Department report says religious leaders admit they censor themselves when they preach.

  •  
This June 25, 2014, file photo shows a group of  immigrants from Honduras and El Salvador who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally are stopped in Granjeno, Texas. Even as they grapple with an immigration crisis at the border, White House officials are making plans to act before November’s mid-term elections to grant work permits to potentially millions of immigrants in this country illegally, allowing them to stay in the United States without threat of deportation, according to advocates and lawmakers in touch with the administration.

    White House: No plan to house Texas border kids at Guantánamo

    The Obama administration has no plans to use its pop-up tent city for Caribbean migrants at Guantánamo to help ameliorate the Texas border crisis of unaccompanied children crossing the border from Central America.

  •  
FILE - In this Friday, July 25, 2014, file photo, U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to the media, while meeting with El Salvador's President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, Guatemala's President Otto Perez Molina, and Honduran President Juan Hernandez, to discuss Central American immigration and the border crisis in the Cabinet Room  in Washington.  Even as they grapple with an immigration crisis at the border, White House officials are making plans to act before November’s mid-term elections to grant work permits to potentially millions of immigrants in the United States, illegally, allowing them to stay in the country without threat of deportation, according to advocates and lawmakers in touch with the administration.

    Obama mulls large-scale move on immigration

    Even as they grapple with an immigration crisis at the border, White House officials are making plans to act before November's mid-term elections to grant work permits to potentially millions of immigrants who are in this country illegally, allowing them to stay in the United States without threat of deportation, according to advocates and lawmakers in touch with the administration.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category