PB: Ready for Another Lawsuit?
It was such a quiet week until SDM had a chance to rummage through the upcoming May 6th agenda packet. You can find it here. The agenda is blessedly dull until you get to Item 10E and its promise of litigation.
Take a guess what kind of property will cause the next lawsuit? If you answered a private school, go to the fridge and open a beer or pour yourself a glass of wine to celebrate your new title: Monarch of the Obvious!
Item 10E is a resolution authorizing a special election so that the Alexander School can increase its enrollment by 59 students. Yes, you read that correctly. The school wants to go from 270 to 329 students and the Village of Litigation requires by charter (meaning some of you reading this blog voted for this dumb procedure) that 75% of the voters living within 2000 feet of the school must approve the change.
SDM understands the root of this foolishness. When the Palmer genie escaped from the bottle, some on the council wanted to make sure that no more children would be educated in our little burgh. So they inserted a poison pill into the charter thinking that even its mere presence would force these little pests outside the village’s borders.
Apparently, the Alexander School missed the message and is testing this new procedure. The interesting (or scary) part is that the school also went out and hired the very same law firm that successfully sued the Village on Palmer’s behalf. (That sound you just heard is your tax bill rising.)
In a carefully worded letter attached to the application, the school’s attorney diplomatically points out that the Village is trampling Alexander School’s constitutionally protected property rights:
Alexander School, Inc., as owner of the School Property, respectfully maintains that Section 10.1 of the Village Charter is unconstitutional in that it inhibits their right to petition the Village Council and be heard by the Council in a public hearing to seek amendment of the development rights on their property as prescribed in the U.S. Constitution and the Citizens’ Bill of Rights of Palmetto Bay. Section 10.1 does not treat uses where public assembly of persons is proposed in an equal, or consistent, manner. In addition, we believe that State Attorney General Opinion 2012-32 and State Attorney General Opinion 83-31, copies of which are attached, hold that a local government may not require the written consent of certain adjoining property owners prior to the commencement of construction. We believe that Section 10.1 results in the illegal delegation by the Village to certain property owners of the Village Council’s legislative power to regulate zoning and land use, and to determine public policy by such regulation. (Emphasis by SDM.)
SDM read the Attorney General Opinions cited (they are included in the item if you want to review them) and thinks the attorney is representing them fairly. (Maybe some of you legal eagles can offer your opinion in the comments? Pretty please?)
SDM Wonders: Will the Village Attorney – already under withering fire from all sides – have the stones (figuratively speaking, of course) to tell the people who pay her bills the truth about this legal question?
Requiring 75% of voters to approve the change strikes SDM as unconstitutional, too. (Wake up Bilzin Sumberg!) Seriously, if the village council doesn’t want the responsibility for administering the zoning code, then why do they limit the input to only those who vote? Surely some of the adjacent property owners are not registered – heck, they may not even be U.S. citizens. (Yes, SDM is aware that this is Miami and everyone votes whether they are “legally” allowed or not. Humor us, okay?)
Even non-citizens and unregistered people pay taxes and their property is just as much “at risk” as the neighboring owners who vote. (SDM is using quotations around “at risk” because we don’t agree that children devalue neighboring property and want proof, damn it!)
Then again, these 59 kids are probably going to clog the streets of the entire village with their soccer parents and their minivans, so why doesn’t every property owner get to vote? (Help, Help! SDM’s being repressed!!!”)
Oh yeah! SDM remembers why all of us don’t get to vote on this question: It’s that pesky U.S. constitution and its impertinent protections of the individual against the inconstant majority. Almost forgot that silly provision.
SDM Says: Thank you prior Mayor and Council for failing to even review the charter amendments and for listening to the SOPs and CCOCIers who demanded you place those charter amendments on the ballot despite their flaws. And a pox on all you voters who approved this amendment thinking that your council had vetted them. Silly fools, your chickens are coming home…to roost…again.