Key Biscayne has filed a lawsuit against the city of Miami over the city’s decision to redevelop the Miami Marine Stadium grounds in order to host one of South Florida’s biggest tourist events.
The Miami City Commission voted in early January to enter into a license agreement with the National Marine Manufacturers Association to bring the Miami International Boat Show to Virginia Key. Under the agreement, the city will make up to $16 million worth of improvements to the undeveloped land east of the stadium to host the boat show during President’s Day weekend starting in February 2016.
Miami officials have publicly stated that they don’t know how else that property will be used during most 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.
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 said. “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. 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.
According to John Shubin, a land-use attorney hired to represent the village, the order to stay the proceedings has not been entered because a judge has not been assigned to the case yet. The complaint was filed Friday afternoon.
According to the complaint, turning the surrounding area of the Marine Stadium into an event and exhibition space violates the city of 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 states commercializing the property is not an allied purpose and violates deed restrictions.
“We are confident to be able to resolve this matter in our favor as the uses for this property are compatible with the land use regulations. It is unfortunate the City of Key Biscayne wishes to sue the City of Miami,” Miami City Attorney Victoria Mendez said in an email Monday evening.