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. 

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