Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

The city where the Dolphins play now has a say on stadium surroundings

Under a lawsuit settlement, Miami Gardens voters will make the next decision about the control of building around the Dolphins’ stadium.
Under a lawsuit settlement, Miami Gardens voters will make the next decision about the control of building around the Dolphins’ stadium. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

The decision over joint control of building rights at New Miami Stadium is now officially in the hands of Miami Gardens voters.

This week the Miami-Dade County Commission and the Miami Gardens City Council separately approved a settlement agreement to a July 2014 lawsuit between the city and the county.

“When we started this about a year or two years ago the sides were pretty far apart and now I think we have a reasonable agreement,” Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert said. The county has had building control of the land around the stadium since before the city was incorporated in 2003.

Voters will consider a city charter change that adds the joint control provisions and the process for applicants. The agreement will give the two municipal bodies building and zoning control at the stadium and surrounding properties. Any zoning applications would have to be processed through the city.

“It creates a table and it puts us, the county and the stadium at the table,” Gilbert said.

If the city denies a zoning application (in a public hearing) or approves one with conditions the developer doesn’t want, the decision can be appealed to the County Commission.

The proposed agreement will transfer 12 county-owned properties to the city at a cost of $10 each. Only some of the properties are close to the stadium. Gilbert said the city manager and staff are looking at how to utilize the properties and said they’ll be used for both housing and commercial purposes.

Section 9.6 of the city’s charter, as initially written, states that the stadium properties and the Dolphin Center Development of Regional Impact and all zoning and building approvals, street maintenance, and other regulations would fall under the county’s jurisdiction. Miami Gardens argued in its lawsuit that the date in the charter of Dec. 31, 2012, was the deadline for the city to be granted development control.

The area in question is referred as the Dolphin Center Development of Regional Impact and contains the area surrounding the stadium, on Northwest 199th Street and Northwest 27th Avenue, and going east toward Florida’s Turnpike. It’s an area that the city hopes to develop for major events like Super Bowl 54.

The city’s agreement with the stadium to host the Jazz in the Gardens festival will be extended for another five years with an option to extend the agreement to 2026.

The proposed agreement comes after several public and private meetings between the City Council, the County Commission and their legal teams. The City Council approved the ballot language April 27.

The settlement and dismissal of the lawsuit only become official if Miami Gardens voters approve the charter change and following the approval of a joint ordinance from the city and county.

Miami Gardens residents have until Aug. 1 to register for the Aug. 30 election.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3

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