Appellate Court - "clear and unambiguous" in instructions to Palmetto Bay
A Miami-Dade circuit court has reiterated its instructions to the Village of Palmetto Bay to remove two restrictive conditions placed on Palmer Trinity School, paving the way for the school’s expansion plans.
For those of you keeping the box scores of circuit and appellate court motions, that’s:
Palmer Trinity – 4 Palmetto Bay – 0
The ($17 million dollar) question remains:
Will the mayor and village council follow the court order?
If past behavior is any indication, the answer is:
In February, the court ruled in the school’s favor to remove two conditions from a village zoning resolution put in place last year. The conditions include capping student enrollment at 900, and enacting a 30-year moratorium on any further expansion. The school was also granted a request to limit what areas of its zoning application can be further reviewed.
In May, Palmetto Bay filed a motion asking the court to, “clarify” what will be addressed at an upcoming hearing in the Palmer Trinity expansion case. According to the village, the election of new village council members and staff changes means entire zoning resolution should be reconsidered — not just the two conditions.
Thankfully, the appellate division of the 11th judicial circuit court for Miami-Dade county sees it the same way. On June 1, the three-member panel of justices Joseph Farina, Joel Brown, and Norma Lindsey concurred – finding that the original opinion in this matter issued February 11 is, “clear and unambiguous.“
Thousands of zoning issues are ruled upon each year by municipalities across the country. Imagine the delays and costs to taxpayers if unfavorable zoning hearings and ordinances could be challenged each time newly elected officials were sworn in, or new staff members were hired. Ordinances and resolutions are designed to transcend the individuals who enact them,for the sake of continuity, from one generation of residents to the next. The judges went on to say, “The Village of Palmetto Bay shall forthwith commence the required proceedings to remove the two quashed conditions from the Resolution or otherwise render those conditions ineffectual and take no further action that would be inconsistent with this Court’s prior Order of May 5, 2011 and this Order.”
How the mayor and council will respond to this latest court order is unknown. Four legal motions have been decided in the school’s favor, and the village has been admonished by the justices who ruled unanimously that Palmetto Bay, “…acted without substantial evidence” when it cut the Palmer Trinity enrollment cap and set a three-decade freeze on further growth. The triumvirate also referred to the village’s decisions as “arbitrary” and “unreasonable.”
Compounding the pressure on the village is a $17 million dollar lawsuit for damages filed by Palmer Trinity.
Isn’t it time to put aside any emotional and personal objections, and accept the court’s authority and this applicant’s legal rights? As a municipality, we do not have an endless pool of finances or resources to continue to challenge both the applicant and the courts.
Let’s hope the Mayor and council finally agree.
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