Miami Gardens sues county to gain control of stadium area

Erick Johnson | 7/9/2014, 11:55 a.m.
A legal battle is brewing between the Miami Gardens and Miami-Dade County over the area around Sun Life Stadium. The ...

A legal battle is brewing between Miami Gardens and Miami-Dade County over the area around Sun Life Stadium.

The dispute involves the Dolphin Center Development of Regional Impact, an area surrounding the Sun Life Stadium at NW 27th Avenue and 199th Street. Though located in Miami Gardens, the area falls under the jurisdiction of the county.

That arrangement was set in place when Miami Gardens became a city back in 2003. After its incorporation, Miami Gardens and the county were supposed to sign an agreement regarding provision 9.6 but that never happened.


Oliver Gilbert

Fast forward to 2014. As Dolphins' Steve Ross set to install a roof and make $350 million worth of renovations to the stadium, Miami Gardens officials want to control the building and zoning aspect of the project and future ones. But without the signed agreement, they do not have the power to do so. Those decisions still rest with the county.

Miami Gardens City Attorney Sonja Knighton-Dickens said the city has tried to gain control over the area, but failed. When the county allegedly backpedaled after telling Miami Gardens to draft an interlocal agreement, city officials filed a lawsuit on July 2.

The suit, which was filed in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court, seeks jurisdiction over zoning and building permits within the DRI.

“They told us one thing and did another,” said Knightin-Dickens.

“What Miami Gardens is seeking is the same rights and abilities any other city has over their area,” said Mayor Oliver Gilbert. “The county cannot regulate the use of property in Miami Gardens forever. That’s not going to happen.”

In the 9.6 provision of Miami Gardens’ charter, county officials justified their jurisdiction over the area, saying the area is DRI, defined by the state as “any development which, because of its character, magnitude, or location, would have a substantial effect upon the health, safety or welfare of citizens of more than one county.”

Provision 9.6 in Miami Gardens reads, “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. . .shall remain with Miami-Dade County.”

But Gilbert said this problem has nothing to do with the Dolphin Center DRI. Gilbert said the problem is not allowing Miami Gardens officials to make zoning decisions.