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American Shipper

Miami River interests headed to court

Miami River interests headed to court

The battle to retain more land on the Miami River for marine industrial use is expected to shift to a state appellate court by Friday, when an appeal will be filed against a state Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) ruling favorable to a planned residential development on the river.

   The 5.5-mile Miami River serves as a de facto port for niche shipping operations serving the Caribbean islands trade, and groups supporting the river's continued use for marine operations are opposed to developers who want to convert some of the land for residential towers.

   The Miami City Commission previously approved a project known as Hurricane Cove, which would include four residential towers with 1,072 units. That prompted a challenge to the DOAH, but last month an administrative judge ruled that the city had the right to change the zoning for the land from marine industrial to restricted commercial, which would allow the Hurricane Cove development.

   Fran Bohnsack, executive director of the Miami River Marine Group, said Wednesday that ruling will be challenged in the Miami-based 3rd District Court of Appeals, with the formal filing expected by Friday.

   Bohnsack said the appeal would seek to allow evidence that would show a pattern of city rulings harmful to marine interests on the river. The DOAH ruling did not consider the broader argument on land use, sticking to the specifics of the Hurricane Cove project.

   The Miami River Marine Group is also opposing to other City Commissioner-approved residential developments on the river, both of which are now under review by the DOAH.

   The Miami River handles an estimated $4 billion a year in international trade, and by some measures could be considered the fourth largest port in Florida, Bohnsack said.

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