Following an unprecedented number of comments and public outcry from Palmetto Bay residents, the Village Council reiterated its long-standing position on the construction of a bridge on SW 87th Avenue from SW 164th Street to SW 163rd Terrace.
Palmetto Bay residents have been fighting against the county's plan to increase capacity on SW 87th Avenue since the Village incorporated. In 2003, the Council adopted Resolution No. 03-22
opposing the widening of SW 87th Avenue. When the issue resurfaced in 2016, the Council passed Resolution No. 2016-89
rejecting any modifications to SW 87th Avenue and SW 77th Avenue, including bridges.
During last night's hybrid Special Council Meeting, hundreds of concerned Village residents flooded the virtual meeting lobby, sent hundreds of electronic comments, came to speak in person, and commented on the Village's Facebook page where the meeting was being shown live to speak on the issue. The overwhelming majority, 80.3%, spoke in opposition of the bridge citing concerns over additional traffic congestion, cut-through traffic on neighborhood streets, neighborhood safety, and an overall decline in quality of life if the bridge were to be built. 19.6% of the speakers commented in favor.
The bridge controversy resurfaced after District 8 County Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins, who represents the Village of Palmetto Bay and the Town of Cutler Bay, presented an item
before the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) last Tuesday, February 2nd directing the County Mayor to "take all actions necessary to construct a bridge" over the C-100 canal, extending SW 87th Avenue from SW 164th Street to SW 163rd Terrace. The County's resolution also called for the appropriation of $3,100,0000 in funds from unencumbered road impact fees and to identify other funding sources as necessary to implement the project.
The move came without any prior warning to Palmetto Bay officials. As a result, the item was heard by the BCC and passed without any feedback from the Palmetto Bay community. Mayor Cunningham, who called the Special Council meeting and sponsored the two resolutions on the agenda
opposing the county's action on the bridge, provided her reasons for calling the Special Meeting, indicating that the most important component to her is "the public outreach and giving the community the opportunity to speak." Mayor Cunningham clarified that although the Village Council cannot vote on any action regarding the construction of the bridge, the resolutions solidify the Village's position on the matter.
After hearing public comments for almost 3 hours, the Village Council unanimously moved to adopt the resolutions on the meeting agenda
requesting that the Board of County Commissioners reconsider their action and postpone the meeting of the Transportation Planning Organization to consider the BCC's action. The resolution also urges County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava to veto the resolution passed by the BCC on February 2, 2021. A second resolution was also adopted requesting deferral of the item from the TPO to a later date to "allow the Village Council, Village Manager and Village Residents to voice their concerns over an issue that dramatically affects the safety and quality of life of the neighborhood residents." In addition, the Council introduced an add on item seeking to initiate Florida's Conflict Resolution Procedure as provided in Section 164.1052 of the Florida Statutes for the following reasons:
(i) The [County] Resolution violates Section 1.02 of the Charter of Miami- Dade County which requires the appropriation of funds shall be by Ordinance. The Resolution at Section 3 specifically states that the Board is appropriating $3.1 million for the design and construction of the Bridge.
(ii) By not adopting the measure by Ordinance, it violates the County’s notice requirements for the adoption of Ordinances.
(iii) The County’s reliance on Ordinance 20-38 authorizing the waiver of procedural requirements, including but not limited to the 3 and 4 day rules, is inapplicable as the Ordinance applies to emergency measures, and the bridging of 87th does not “meet a public emergency affecting life, health, property or public safety”.
(iv) As stated in the Memorandum of May 5, 2020, which is also relied upon for what is an improper Resolution, it specifically states that Ordinance 20-38 is meant to “expedite certain processes and procedures that directly affect the acquisition of goods and services”. The construction of a bridge is no such thing.
Village Attorney John Dellagloria explained that by Florida Statute, a conflict resolution proceeding is required to resolve governmental conflict before any litigation action is taken. The next step is for representatives of both the County and the Village to meet and reach an agreement on the issue. If that option does not work, a public meeting is held to discuss the options.
The Mayor & Council voted to hold the meeting on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at Village Hall.