WSH Obtains Favorable Final Order in Significant Environmental Law Matter for Condominium Association

This summer, WSH reported on a favorable decision in an administrative proceeding that WSH Members Mitchell J. Burnstein and Susan L. Trevarthen obtained on behalf of the Mayan Beach Club (“Association”). The case arose when Broward County and the Sea Turtle Oversight Protection (“STOP”) challenged a modification to an Association permit that would level a 176-foot sand dune, arguing that the dune provided significant environmental protection and should not be destroyed for the purpose of providing a more desirable ocean view for the Association’s owners. Specifically, the challengers alleged that the dune contained an endangered species of plant known as the beach star, helped prevent coastal erosion of the shoreline, and provided a nesting habitat for species of marine turtles that are protected under state law. The Association and the Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) countered that the Association had agreed to partner with the City of Fort Lauderdale as part of a dune restoration project at the Palms Condominium, under which a stretch of beach would harbor several endangered species of vegetation. The Association and DEP also argued that neighboring beach areas provided nesting habitats for the turtles. On August 25, Florida Administrative Judge David Maloney recommended that the DEP enter a final order issuing the Modification. In his opinion, Judge Maloney stated that there was no evidence that the adjacent beaches provided inferior protection for the sea turtles or endangered vegetation. He also held that the facts did not support a finding that the dune prevented coastal erosion, since it lacked the height or continuity along the shore needed to be considered a “significant dune.”

On October 17, Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard, Jr. issued a Final Order adopting the Recommended Order in its entirety and granting the Association's Modification.  In the Final Order, Secretary Vinyard acknowledged that there was competent substantial evidence of record supporting the decision in the Recommended Order.

In addition to serving as Partner-in-Charge of the Broward Office, Mitch chairs the firm’s Eminent Domain Practice Group. The Group routinely represents private property and business owners in negotiations with government employees attempting to acquire properties and businesses. The Group also represents dozens of governmental entities, quasi-governmental entities, and utilities that acquire property rights. Susan serves as the Chair of our Public Land Use and Zoning Practice Group, which provide counsel and advice to local governments on a range of issues regarding comprehensive plans, land development regulations, site plans and building permits. Many of the Group’s attorneys are certified planners and Board-certified experts in the field of zoning.

You can read a copy of the Final Order here.

Categories: Land Use & Zoning (Public)Environmental/SustainabilityGovernment AffairsLand Use & Zoning (Private)Eminent Domain
Tags: Mitchell J. BurnsteinJoshua D. KrutClifford A. SchulmanSusan L. TrevarthenFort Lauderdale Condominium Association AttorneysMiami Condominium Association AttorneysSouth Florida Condominium Association AttorneysFort Lauderdale Governmental Affairs AttorneysMiami Governmental Affairs AttorneysSouth Florida Governmental Affairs AttorneysFort Lauderdale Eminent Domain AttorneysMiami Eminent Domain AttorneysSourth Florida Eminent Domain AttorneysFort Lauderdale Environmental Law AttorneysMiami Environmental Law AttorneysSouth Florida Environmental Law Attorneys Florida Environmental Law
Author(s): Brooke P. Dolara