County Delays Vote On Watson Island Marina
Written by Eric Kalis on October 12, 2006
By Eric Kalis
For the third consecutive meeting, Miami-Dade County commissioners postponed voting Tuesday whether to allow Flagstone Property Group to create a 50-slip mega-yacht marina on Watson Island.
Commissioner Bruno Barreiro proposed delaying the vote until November to allow for further review of modifications the developers made to project plans. Since the next chance for the commission to vote would be Nov. 28, commissioners will explore the possibility of a special session earlier in the month to address the project, which also includes a pair of high-rise hotels, shops and restaurants and a historical museum.
"There is a lot of information here to disseminate," Mr. Barreiro said.
City of Miami officials and Flagstone developers have pushed to create the marina since 2001. The project has gained city approval and participation in more than 40 public meetings. City Manager Pete Hernandez and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz were at Tuesday’s meeting to endorse the project.
The main hold-up for city officials is the county’s reluctance to issue a permit to dredge 15.81 acres of Biscayne Bay bottom to allow the marina to accommodate mega-yachts. County commissioners are split on public access to the marina and its potential impact on the dwindling water supply and environment.
Commissioner Natacha Seijas said she won’t vote to issue a dredging permit until Flagstone officials prove the project wouldn’t harm the county’s water supply.
"I am worried that the high volume of fresh water the marina would use might result in the demand for potable drinking water not being met," Ms. Seijas said. "This project places a heavy burden on our water. We need to find a solution for that."
After the commission postponed a vote for the second time in September, project proponents met with representatives from the Urban Environmental League, County Attorney Murray Greenberg’s office and the Department of Environmental Resource Management, Mr. Hernandez said. Project officials are anxious to proceed, he said.
"This project has been under review for five years," Mr. Hernandez said. "It is about time that a final decision is made. If not today, then we ask that it is voted on in two weeks."
If project officials want county commissioners to approve the dredging permit, Mr. Barreiro said, they should let commissioners study the plans at their own pace.
Mr. Hernandez and project officials "are saying that we need to get this over with," he said. "That is a bad business decision on their part."