County approves jetty project on Miami River despite objections
By Suzy Valentine
A Miami River jetty project won Miami-Dade County Commission approval Tuesday although its developer continues to fight objections to its construction.
The pier forms part of Balbino Investments Inc.'s $300 million, 1,072-unit Hurricane Cove, for which the City of Miami has granted a permit.
County Commissioners granted a Class I permit to bulkhead and backfill a boat basin next to the project's site at 1818 and 1884 NW North River Dr. although the developer and protesters have yet to resolve differences over its possible impact on the river.
"My group is involved in litigation over this property," said Fran Bohnsack, executive director of the Miami River Marine Group. "We believe the zoning change was not according to the city's comprehensive plan. All that we would ask is that we let the courts go through their process and let them decide."
"I'd ask you to please defer this measure until such time as all the appropriate parties can address the issue before you," Horacio Stuart Aguirre, president of the Durham Park Neighborhood Association, told commissioners, "and until the time that the courts that are reviewing this matter have time to settle various issues."
According to the permit application, Balbino would build 165 feet of bulkhead on a basin 115 feet wide and 255 feet long.
The objectors argued that to permit the construction would endanger more boat slips, adding to countywide concerns about their disappearance.
"Miami-Dade County touts itself as the fun-and-sun boating capital of the world," Mr. Aguirre said, "but we're losing that image and that prestige and the privilege of enjoying recreational boating for our families to Broward County for lack of recreational marine facilities."
"Our purpose in bringing the case is to preserve the boat slips that I know you know are disappearing because I know you passed a resolution to save them through a boat-slip bank," said Ms. Bohnsack.
Shortages have led to problems in times of crisis, Mr. Aguirre said. "We have so few of them that when hurricanes come up, folks like myself that live on the Miami River are inundated with requests from boat owners for storage facilities."
The applicant's attorney said Hurricane Cove has incorporated 130 boat slips into its design - equaling the number lost in construction - and would improve the neighborhood.
"What they don't mention is that the project has 130 commercial boat slips that have been approved by the city," said Cliff Schulman of Greenberg Traurig. "There is an artificial basin on this site where the seawall is broken, and it is stagnant. It basically allows the accumulation of what they call in the trade flotsam and jetsam - garbage."
Mr. Schulman said the stretch of the river "is a boat basin that is before you today to be filled that is presently not utilized except for the accumulation of garbage, trash, abandoned bicycles, tin cans, a bunch of other garbage."