The Village Mayor, Manager and Attorney hosted Miami-Dade County Chief Operating Officer (COO) Jimmy Morales and Assistant County Attorneys Bruce Liebhaber and Annery Pulgar Alfonso along with Special Counsel Gerard Greenberg (assigned to represent the Village in this matter) at Village Hall this afternoon to carry out a Conflict Assessment Meeting. The Conflict Assessment Meeting was brought forward by the Village of Palmetto Bay in response to the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) Resolution No. R-88-21, pertaining to the construction of a bridge that would extend SW 87th Avenue from SW 164th Street to SW 163rd Terrace.
Mayor Cunningham began the meeting by welcoming everyone and explaining the Village’s position of a “failed process” by Miami-Dade County on the 87th Avenue Bridge Project. The Mayor explained how residents on both sides deserve the opportunity to dialogue, ask questions and learn more about the latest plans for the bridge and how none of it has been afforded to the community due to the process in which it was handled by the BCC in February of this year. She underscored the fact that many things have changed in Palmetto Bay in the last three years in terms of traffic, and added that as an example, there are several newly-approved upcoming transportation projects to be done by the County, which have not been accounted for, along with the bridge, in terms of their potential to improve traffic overall in the Village. Special Counsel Greenberg then proceeded to lay out where the Village stands legally “in the spirit of sharing our thinking to try to resolve it.” He added that the Village is looking for a decision to be made after everyone is heard as it is not fair or lawful to speak on a flawed resolution sent to the BCC without proper notice. This was to be passed according to process by ordinance and not resolution. The Village Special Counsel requested for the Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) Board Public Hearing Item on this project scheduled to be heard next Thursday, March 18, 2021 at 2 p.m. be postponed and items to be sent back to the BCC or at the very least postponed until the conflict resolution process is over. Attorney Greenberg then advised that anything less would result in a challenge in court. At this point, Assistant County Attorney Alfonso responded that the County believed that these items were “misguided” as there have been several opportunities for the community to be heard in the past week. COO Morales then added that he truly wanted to avoid litigation, however, he was concerned that the TPO Board is its own entity and he does not report to them or guarantee they will honor the request. He was concerned that there was “nothing he could do to move the ball forward at the TPO level”. The Village then broke for a recess to caucus on how to proceed.
Upon their return, the Mayor requested that COO Morales reach out to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava to request that the TPO delay the meeting for at least one month and have a community meeting in the Village of Palmetto Bay to show the current project plans, schedule and current cost to the residents as well as give them an opportunity to ask questions and review other County projects planned for the Village. COO Morales said he would gladly convey the request to the Mayor. He reiterated his concern about next steps if the TPO does not agree to postpone the meeting. Special Counsel Greenberg advised that if the TPO Board agreed to these terms it would resolve the challenge, however, if they did not the Village would move to the next step of the conflict resolution process.
In conclusion, the group will reconvene virtually on Monday, March 15 at 3 p.m. to give the COO the chance to convey the request to Mayor Levine-Cava and get her feedback and response as well as for Mayor Cunningham to discuss this item with the Village Council.
We would like to say thank you to the more than 75 people who joined the meeting via our Facebook page or GoToWebinar for continuing to be a part of this very important process! Please do join us Monday for next steps of this issue. Have a safe and happy weekend. Enjoy Palmetto Bay!