This past summer, we discussed how efforts aimed at introducing an oil drilling operation in the Florida Everglades were encountering considerable opposition from local officials and may stand to be derailed altogether thanks to the previous assignment of a stringent conservation zoning classification to the land in question.
Interestingly enough, the Everglades are once again at the center of a rather bitter development dispute, one that may ultimately raise complex legal issues related to either land use or zoning classifications.
What is this dispute about?
The dispute centers on a proposal to build a 76-mile paved bike path from Miami to Naples that runs directly through the Everglades. The initial proposal calls for a 12-14 foot-wide paved bike path complete with trailheads every 10-12 miles outfitted with recreation areas, restrooms, parking and vending machines.
Who supports these efforts to build the bike path and why?
Proponents of the bike path, which would run parallel to the Tamiami Trail, argue that the path would allow people greater access to the natural wonders of the Everglades, encourage exercise, and provide a much-needed safe location for bicyclists in a state that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently determined had the highest bike accident fatality rate in the nation.
Who opposes these efforts to build the bike path and why?
Those lining up in opposition to the group come from a variety of backgrounds from conservation groups like the Sierra Club to hunting enthusiasts like the Florida Sportsmen's Conservation Association. Among other things, these groups argue that the bike path would destroy critical habitat, compromise restoration efforts and encroach on indigenous lands.
What's the current status of the bike path project?
The future of the project remains to be seen as the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department has yet to complete its feasibility study, which will outline public concerns, explore routes and, most significantly, examine environmental impact. The report, which should be finished in the next two months, will likely determine whether the project will take the next step or be shelved.
In the event of the former, it seems likely that legal options might start to be explored by the opposition and that zoning issues could potentially come into play.
Stay tuned for updates ...
If you have questions or concerns about land use, zoning or eminent domain, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.