Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to secure a new casino in the Edgewater district near Miami, FL. The community has opposed such a casino and other smaller gambling expansion attempts by the existing casino such as a proposed jai alai fronton and poker room in the Edgewater neighborhood. Miami Mayor vetoed the most recent proposal and naturally, his veto was challenged. A Miami-Dade Circuit Court has upheld the veto, thus killing the gambling expansion. The Miami-Herald reports:
A controversial proposal to bring a jai alai fronton to Edgewater has been shot down in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. Judge Michael Hanzmann ruled on Wednesday that the push by West Flagler Associates, the owners of Magic City Casino, to bring gambling to Edgewater in downtown Miami was, at its core, a “land use issue” that overruled any other permissions the company had been granted to pursue its pari-mutuel facilities..
West Flagler had received a permit to proceed with their establishment in July 2018. When a change in law that would change zoning permits for gambling establishments was enacted in 2019, the developer sued and won approval from City of Miami commissioners in a 3-2 vote on Feb. 13, 2020, to proceed with its plan to build a fronton and card-gambling establishment as part of a larger complex at 3050 Biscayne Blvd.
On February 21, 2020, a week after the commission approved the project, Mayor Francis Suarez vetoed that lawsuit settlement, blocking Flagler Associates to proceed with the fronton.
West Flagler Associates and the City of Miami were sued in March 2000 by a group of elite civic leaders, including billionaire automobile magnate Norman Braman and Related Group CEO Jorge M. Pérez, who claimed the permission to proceed with the gambling establishment had not been properly settled by a court.
Judge Hanzmann’s ruling on Wednesday affirmed Mayor Suarez’s legal ability to veto the deal, citing the casino owners “claimed they obtained special rights to expand casino gambling through private meetings with City officials.”
This particular backroom deal appears to be completely dead as no appeal is planned. A new attempt, one that is above board and more transparent is planned however. The Miami-Herald concludes:
Joseph DeMaria, a partner at Fox Rothschild who is representing West Flagler Associates, said his client has no plan to appeal the ruling. “We have already resubmitted a settlement proposal to the city attorney and asked that they schedule it for the next commission meeting,” DeMaria said. “The new proposal provides for a jai alai fronton and card room but no slot machines and waives all attorney’s fees, which could run up into the millions. If the city commission doesn’t approve it, or if the commission not override the mayor’s veto, we’re going to court.”
“We are pleased with the Judge’s decision,” Braman said in a press release Thursday. “And with help from the City Mayor and Commission, Miami has become a world class city and is on the precipice of further transformational leaps. The last thing our city needs is the plight and desolation that come with casino gambling. I look forward to working alongside City officials to continue the advancement of Miami.”
Grace Mead, one of the attorneys at the Stearns Weaver Miller law firm representing Braman and the other opponents of the casino, said “We are pleased with the ruling and one preceding it which together likely brings an end to a back door, secret attempt to alter the zoning code to expand gambling in the City.”
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