Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Additional 87th Bridge litigation update - Hearing date set - Response to Motion to Dismiss filed (link to document provided)

A reader provided me with Palmetto Bay's Response in Opposition to the County's Motion to Dismiss [this document was filed at 6:54 PM last night - (6/21), but is not yet posted to the public online docket].  CLICK HERE to download and view this 29 page response.

The hearing on the County's Motion to Dismiss has been scheduled for 3:30 PM, July 11, 2022.

Attorney Norman Waas filed discovery on behalf of Palmetto Bay:  Miami-Dade County has been served with Interrogatories (written questions to be answered in writing under oath) as well as Request for Admissions. 

June 17, 2022: The court rendered an order requiring the parties to prepare and file a comprehensive case management report (pursuant to Administrative Order AO 21-09). This report is presently due no later than Friday July 8, 2022. The report will provide significant details to aid the court in moving this case to resolution. (follow link above to view complete update)

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

87th Bridge litigation update - No hearing yet to resolve the County's Motion to Dismiss

87th Avenue Bridge litigation update - VILLAGE OF PALMETTO BAY, FLORIDA, CAROLINE HETU, AND CRAIG WOISCHWILL v. MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, CASE NO. 2022-003627-CA-30.  

June 17, 2022: The court rendered an order requiring the parties to prepare and file a comprehensive case management report (pursuant to Administrative Order AO 21-09). This report is presently due no later than Friday July 8, 2022. The report will provide significant details to aid the court in moving this case to resolution. 

CLICK HERE to view the blank sample  case management report that was provided in the June 17 Case Management Order.

A case management hearing was held on June 17, 2022.  I did attend as an interested observer. The hearing was held via zoom virtual platform. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Court proceedings are open to the public in Florida with few exceptions and then proceedings may be closed only if there is no reasonable alternative to closure; closure being the least restrictive form available.  

Results of the case management hearing held on June 17, 2022: No substantive items were resolved. The parties were directed to contact the court on the following Tuesday (6/21/2022) and attempt to secure an early hearing date on the pending motion to dismiss. the court also notified the attorneys that this case was put on one hour standby; that all parties should be ready to argue the motion to dismiss within an hours notice (experience tells me the court would attempt to provide more notice as scheduling permits) in the event that sufficient time becomes available on the court hearing docket.

The lawsuit is progressing slowly.  I had commented previously that this case may be different for Palmetto Bay due to appearances by Palmetto Bay Resident Norman Waas as a volunteer attorney on behalf of the Village of Palmetto Bay.  As I stated before, and without reservation, he is a highly respected litigator. He has incentive as a resident who has opposed the bridging of 87th avenue, adding his passion and extensive litigation experience. 

It was also announced at this hearing that Miami-Dade County has schedule an August 2022 groundbreaking for the 87th Avenue Bridge project.

I assume, or at least it is my hope, that the public will receive a full briefing on the status of this lawsuit at the July Regular Village Council Meeting.

Prior related posts:

April 8, 2022, The Weekend Read - the Palmetto Bay bridge litigation. Important updates. Links to important documents supplied

Background information is also provided in a prior related post of February 4, 2022, Mediation ended in an impasse – will the mayor and council file the lawsuit? Key local attorneys are ready to step in for residents in opposition to the bridge. as well as January 20, 2022, Miami-Dade County will hold the Joint meeting with Palmetto Bay today, Thursday, January 20, 2022, at 12:45 PM. There is a public comment section listed on the agenda.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Family Fun Ride Part 2- 6-12-2022 Key Biscayne Dora & The Graveling Expl...


Does anyone want to watch a video of part of the old Crandon Park Zoo? I could not located the spot where Dixie The Elephant used to live.

It is a very interesting place to walk in peace and enjoy the surroundings.

This video was part of the Come as you are Family friendly fun ride of Sunday, June 12, 2022 - a group ride of Dora & The Graveling Explorers.

Monday, June 6, 2022

On this day in History - Early in the morning on June 6, 1944: D-Day.

Think back to this day in 1944.  Waves of Allied soldiers are landing on 5 beaches along Normandy, France.

June 6, 2022, marks the 78th anniversary of D-Day, the  start of the liberation of Europe.  

CLICK HERE to view History.com’s special on D-Day’s 70th anniversary - June 06, 2014, Landing at Normandy: The 5 Beaches of D-Day, by Jesse Greenspan, which looked back at the two American, one Canadian and two British landing points that kicked off the Allied invasion of Western Europe during World War II.

Utah Beach
Omaha Beach
Gold Beach
Juno Beach
Sword Beach

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

June 1st - the 2022 Hurricane Season has arrived. Are you prepared? How about your Pets?

What have you done to prepare for this year? A single storm can cause more than just dollars in damages.  It can cost human lives. We know from experience that people are more likely to be safer and have the ability to recover more quickly when they are properly prepared. 

The 2022 hurricane season is here. You should have your disaster preparedness kit and have a plan to keep your family safe.  Is your insurance coverage adequate? Those living near the coast should be familiar with the applicable evacuation routes.  Everyone needs to take personal responsibility for yourself, your family and your pets.  By making proper preparations, you will allow the first responders to focus on helping the most vulnerable residents. 

I have posted several important links below for Hurricane / Disaster Preparedness information from FEMA and Miami-Dade County in one location for you.  There is also information on how to register with Miami-Dade Alerts, a wireless emergency alerting system.  Register for this free service and receive local weather and hurricane alerts to your computer or cell phone.


Miami-Dade County’s Emergency pages – Hurricane preparedness:
http://www.miamidade.gov/hurricane/ 

What about your pets?  Pet Disaster Preparedness 

Miami-Dade County has resources available online for Emergency planning for your pets:
 http://www.miamidade.gov/animals/library/disaster_tip_sheet_eng.pdf 

Download the tip sheet from Miami-Dade Animal Services, Disaster Preparedness - Animal Supplies Checklist:
http://www.miamidade.gov/animals/library/disaster_tip_sheet_eng.pdf 

FEMA - Federal Emergency Management Agency. U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Plan and prepare for a disaster: https://www.disasterassistance.gov/information/disaster-types/hurricane 

Miami-Dade Alerts 

Miami-Dade County has some important resources to help keep you informed and prepared, like the free Hurricane Guide and Miami-Dade Alerts, a wireless emergency alerting system.  Internet users can register for this free service and receive local weather and hurricane alerts. 

I encourage everyone to register online at https://www.miamidade.gov/global/service.page?Mduid_service=ser149122963708133&utm_source=FriendlyURL&utm_medium=direct&utm_campaign=Alerts

Create or log in to your account to activate free alerts that enables County residents or visitors to receive emergency texts or emails regarding public safety issues, recommended public protective actions or other emergency information.

Staying informed during an imminent threat or emergency is critical in helping to make the right decision for you and your family. Receiving alerts will provide you with guidance in making informed decisions.

Emergency Alerts
Sign up for free emergency alerts. Miami-Dade County will notify you about weather emergencies such as tornado, tropical storm or hurricane warnings issued by the National Weather Service or any other emergency that may require public protective actions. In the event of an emergency, you'll get a message or email with details.
 
Marina Alerts
Sign up for free marina alerts. Miami-Dade County will notify you about boat ramp closures and re-openings and when hazardous weather is approaching so that you will have time to secure your vessel.
 
Transit Rider Alerts
Sign up for free transit rider alerts. Miami-Dade County will notify you about disruptions to the County transit system. In the event of a disruption, you will receive a message with details on the device of your choice. 

Through this service you can inform the County how you would like to receive these messages.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Photo of the day. Lucky dog cyclist - the lead dog

This pampered pooch has a great seat providing a great view. Love the googles.

Photo permission granted

#32: Enjoy the little things. 

Seen along Old Cutler Road - Sunday, May 29, 2022.

Get out and ride. Sometimes you you into some great sights and interaction through slowing down and travelling by bicycle.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

The Remembrance Poppy and the Poem, "In Flanders Field"

 “In Flanders Fields" was written on May 3, 1915 by Lt. Col. John McCrae who was a physician, poet, author, artist and soldier serving in World I. Flanders is a region of Europe that comprises parts of Belgium and France. This poem resulted in the remembrancepoppy becoming one of the world's most recognized memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict.

This poem can be found online at http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/flanders.htm

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Friday, May 27, 2022

The true meaning of Memorial Day. Monday, May 30, 2022

Monday is Memorial Day, a day to honor the brave men and women who gave up their lives in defense of our ideals and country. We owe our peace and democracy to them.

We must continue to remember the sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers who have lost their lives on our behalf. May they rest in peace. We must thank you for their service; for making the ultimate sacrifice. May we watch over the surviving members of your family as you watched over our freedom. 

Brief History: The first Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. On Memorial Day, we honor the men and women in uniform who gave their lives in service to our Nation. Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery each year with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. Traditionally, the President or Vice President lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The occasion is also marked in almost every State on the last Monday in May.

Congress established the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day, asking Americans wherever they are to pause in an act of national unity. The Moment does not replace traditional Memorial Day events; rather it is an act of national unity in which all Americans, alone or with family and friends, honor those who died for our freedom.

The flag should be flown at half staff until noon on this Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds and naval vessels throughout the United States, and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control. All people of the United States are requested to display the flag at half-staff from their homes for the customary period.

CLICK HERE to view prior related posts - Memorial Day.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Government taking of private property for public projects. The taking of resident’s homestead property through eminent domain: two lawsuits involving the Village of Palmetto Bay that you should be concerned about. But will the takings end there?

Were you kept in the loop? So far two residents are at risk of having all or part of their residential property taken for the Old Cutler Road Improvements. We obviously want the project to be done right, if done at all, but what will the impact be for the homeowners facing the tacking as well as their neighbors and other surrounding properties? So far, petitions for the taking of all or parts of these two properties have been been filed in Court. But it may not end there as the mayor and at least one member of the Palmetto Bay Council have discussed taking private property for ‘pocket parks’ here in Palmetto Bay.

First, the two cases that have been filed to date:

Miami-Dade v F Muller.01.ED Petition.2022-008022-CA-01

Petition for Eminent Domain filed May 2, 2022. Property located at 15190 Old Cutler Road. The petition alleges that the designated property is needed for improvements to the intersections of Old Cutler Road, with SW 152 Street and SW 184th Street in Palmetto Bay.

Miami-Dade v R Ryder.01.ED Petition.2022-005523-CA-01

Petition for Eminent Domain filed March 24, 2022. Property located at 7720 SW 183 Terrace. The petition alleges that the designated property is needed for improvements to the intersections of Old Cutler Road, with SW 152 Street and SW 184th Street in Palmetto Bay.

The Ryders have hired legal counsel to fight: the law of Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman, P.L. Their Answer and Affirmative Defenses was filed on May 2, 2022, contesting the taking, or at least the valuation of the taking in this case. 

Who is taking the property, Miami-Dade County or Palmetto Bay? The taking of private property was not disclosed at the Virtual Public Meeting held August 4, 2020. This has always been a joint project; a collaboration between the Village of Palmetto Bay and Miami-Dade County, but as a county road, the improvements on Old Cutler Road will be coordinated and funded by Miami-Dade County. A presentation was provided by Marlin Engineering, Inc. concerning the project during the meeting held on August 4, 2020 by Miami-Dade County and Palmetto Bay. You may view or download the presentation by CLICKING HERE.

This is another Joint project, much like the SW 136 St MEGA sidewalk project. The official Village communications have always acknowledged that Palmetto Bay is collaborating with Miami-Dade County on the Old Cutler Road Intersection Improvements project, which involves the construction of four traffic circles along Old Cutler Road and SW 136th Street, SW 67th Avenue, SW 152nd Street, and SW 184th Street. The village e-news reported on April 12, 2022, that the project is currently in the design phase and construction is anticipated to start in late Summer.

I have background institutional knowledge on this project as I was involved in the traffic plans when serving as mayor, but the taking of property through eminent domain was never discussed or even contemplated. Obviously the design has changed necessitating the taking of private residential property. When was the want for the taking decided? And why? are my initial questions. Was this ever going to be discussed with the public is another important question.

Also of concern: Is the entire property being taken or merely part. And if part, how much? And where with the taste for the taking of private property end if the taking of property is required. After all, Village Officials have discussed taking of resident’s property, so it looks like we are nearing the beginning of a very slippery slope.  Mayor Cunningham held a sunshine meeting she discussed the possibility of using eminent domain powers to take private property to build pockets parks with another member of the Village Council. Neighborhood protection anyone?

NOTE: I am compiling a folder where you can view the materials I am putting together on this matter.  You can view this folder by CLICKING HERE.  Note that all the materials remain available from their original sources. 

Monday, May 2, 2022

Editor Miller raises some serious issues relating to Palmetto Bay’s fiscal accountability, litigation and transparency. The $750,000.00 question.

Currently available on Community Newspapers online: Court rules against the Village of Palmetto Bay in Luxcom case, by Michael Miller, Editor.  $750,000.00 Please, I want to be kept in the loop! My question: Have Palmetto Bay officials spent  more than $750,000 in the different legal matters with Luxcom through October 2021? Obviously that wouldn’t cover all the critical filings leading up to the March 31, 2022, hearing or the Answer and Affirmative Defenses filed late last month. What’s the actual legal bill to date? What is the total budget set aside for this litigation? There are more costs that mere legal. What about overall staff and consultant (administrative) costs that should be associated to this Luxcom matter?

The Palmetto Bay public has a right to know. And the Palmetto Bay elected and staff officials have the duty of candor to the public.  Editor Miller's report raises some alarms as this is not the story that I have been kept in the loop about. This matter has clearly turned into a grudge no holds barred match.  Editor Miller reported on the recent loss that the Palmetto Bay community suffered in court on March 31, 2022.  Background, for those not in the loop, Editor Miller explains that Yacht Club by Luxcom, LLC “… has sued the Village of Palmetto Bay to recover more than $20,000,000.00 in compensation for losses caused by the Village’s efforts to prevent Luxcom from developing its property.

I, myself, have attempted to keep readers in the loop through some of my blog posts (listed at bottom).  Editor Miller reached out for comments from Luxcom, a source we, the people, have not heard from, speaking to a Mr. Barbara, who is the developer of Luxcom.  As Editor Miller explains it: 

When asked about the litigation Mr. Barbara responded – “We are pleased that the Court saw through the Village’s tactics and we look forward to moving vigorously and swiftly with discovery and the preparation for trial in what will be an expensive case with tens of millions of dollars at risk to the Village and its tax payers. As a result of the Court’s ruling, the lawsuit will now proceed forward on its merits, and the Village will finally be held accountable for its conduct and the harm it caused to Luxcom’s property.” 

Barbara added – “additionally, documents obtained through their Public Records Request show that the Village has already spent more than $750,000 in the different legal matters with Luxcom through October 2021, and this case has just begun.”

This is huge and I do believe the taxpaying public is due a full and complete accounting as to the following:

  • What has been spent to date on this Luxcom litigation?
  • Legal costs versus all staff time, administrative costs.
  • What is the projected budget set aside for this Luxcom litigation?
  • What are the goals of this litigation?
  • What is Luxcom entitled to under the law? 
  • What is he village attempting to stop Luxcom from building?
  • Will this litigation resolve the issue or is it merely one more step to additional litigation

Transparency and accountability is important as Editor Miller specifically stated that:

“When Mayor Karyn Cunningham was asked to comment about the most recent court ruling, she said that because it was an ongoing case, she could not comment and directed any questions to the Village Attorney.” 

No, that is deflection, avoidance. The people have the right to know. Legal strategy is one thing, but providing a realistic assessment of the goals, costs to date as well as reasonably expected future costs of this litigation is the public’s right to know.

PRIOR RELATED POSTS - LUXCOM LITIGATION:

April 30, 2022, LUXCOM Litigation update. Palmetto Bay files the Answer and Defenses. 14 pages - filed April 28, 2022

April 21, 2022, LUXCOM Litigation update - Transcript of proceedings from March 31, 2022, now available to the public on official court docket

April 18, 2022, Luxcom litigation update - Palmetto Bay's Motion to Dismissal was denied. Case moves forward.