County should leave Miami Gardens’ property alone

Oliver Gilbert | 7/9/2014, 11:03 a.m.
Miami Gardens is the third largest city in Miami Dade County. With 110,000 residents, Miami Gardens is also the largest ...

Miami Gardens is the third largest city in Miami Dade County. With 110,000 residents, Miami Gardens is also the largest predominantly Black city in the state of Florida. Incorporated in 2003 after years of struggle, the city’s borders are 151st St. to County line Road. On the east side of the city, N.E. 2nd Ave., on the west side it


Oliver Gilbert

is 47th Ave. south to 167 St., the border expands to 57th Ave. The city covers an area of over 20 square miles. We are the city that is home to Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, State Sen. Oscar Braynon, State Rep. Barbara Watson, State Representative Sharon Pritchett, County Commissioner Barbara Jordan, School Board member Wilbert “Tee” Holloway, as well as every elected official that has served on the Miami Gardens City Council since the city’s inception in 2003, including its two mayors, the first Mayor, Shirley Gibson and myself. Most notably, we are home to a very large number of the Black professionals and working-class residents of Miami-Dade County.

For all that we are and all that we are to become, Miami Gardens does not enjoy the full range of authority and power over properties within its borders as every other city in Miami Dade County. Inserted in the Miami Gardens Charter, by the County Commission, is a provision that prevents Miami Gardens from exercising zoning and building control over the area that surrounds and includes Sun Life Stadium. In relevant part Miami Gardens Charter reads:

Section 9.6 Stadium Properties; Dolphin Center DRI

In recognition of the fact that Stadium Properties has significant importance to the economy and well-being of all Miami-Dade County, jurisdiction over the Properties for purposes of zoning and building approvals, water and sewer installations (if applicable), compliance with environmental regulations, street maintenance (including sidewalks, if applicable) and utility regulations shall remain with Miami-Dade County.

The City will preserve the rights and approvals of Stadium Properties and its surrounding development, which are laid out in the DRI Development Order Resolution Z-210-85, dated September 26, 1985, and zoning regulations and ordinances affecting Stadium Properties, as amended through December 31, 2012. Notwithstanding the foregoing, jurisdiction for the Dolphin Center DRI Development Order and any amendments thereto shall remain with Miami-Dade County. Commencing with the date of incorporation, the City shall have all other jurisdiction over the property. Within one hundred eighty (180) days after the election of a municipal council, the City and Miami-Dade County will enter into an Interlocal agreement that includes the provisions of this Section.

Miami Gardens’ Charter Sec. 9.6

The provision is artfully authored and leaves unclear which jurisdiction, Miami Dade County government or the City of Miami Gardens, is responsible for zoning and building approvals; but the county has interpreted the provision as giving itself the authority to zone and issue building permits for the aforementioned area in perpetuity (forever), disregarding the insertion of the date Dec. 31, 2012, the county attorney, through assistant county attorneys, has opined that the date changes nothing. This assertion by the county and limitation of the sovereign rights of the city exists for no other city in Miami-Dade County. The language giving rise to the county’s assertion was inserted into the Miami Gardens’ charter by the county commission and can only be changed with the permission of the county commission; this is so even though the language, and the basic contention that it represents (the county can control zoning and building approvals for areas inside Miami Gardens) seems to violate the Miami-Dade County Charter, the Florida Constitution, and Florida Statutes.