By Agrippina Fadel
13th Floor Homes will get the quasi-judicial hearing they sued the City of Tamarac over, however, it is too early to say when it might happen.
The developer is requesting a land use change designation for two 18-hole golf courses at the Woodlands Country Club from “recreational” to “residential” to build 335 homes, a new clubhouse, and a “recreation” campus on the old golf course.
In November 2021, after the city denied the developer’s request for a ten-month extension to finish preparing the site plan, 13th Floor Homes sued the city over its handling of the project. The company’s lawyers insisted that the land use hearing must be held as a quasi-judicial, not a legislative hearing, as the city proposed.
Quasi-judicial hearing is evidence-based, more structured, and less biased than a legislative hearing, 13th Floor Homes’ lawyers argued in their court filings.
This summer, Tamarac lost at the Fourth District Court of Appeal, which found that the 13th Floor hearing must be held as a quasi-judicial.
Etan Mark, the attorney representing the developer, is encouraged by the court’s recent ruling in its favor and looks forward to bringing its plans for The Woodlands to the Tamarac City Commission once the pending legal matters are resolved.
At July’s commission meeting, attorney Max Lohman, special counsel during the city’s litigation with 13th Floor Homes, handed his resignation letter, stating he hopes the city reaches a satisfactory outcome in the legal dispute with the developer.
The city has since hired Tripp Scott Attorneys at Law.
At the same commission meeting, Vice Mayor Mike Gelin proposed scheduling the quasi-judicial hearing on Wednesday, August 31.
Mark reminded the commission that orders from the Broward County Circuit Court prohibit the city from taking any action that would disrupt the status quo in connection with the development project until the stay is lifted, saying that setting a hearing would violate the Court’s orders.
“We would seek sanctions from the city if the meeting were scheduled and ask the court that the stay remains in place until my client has an opportunity to complete its preparation for this quasi-judicial hearing,” said Mark during public comments.
Before stepping down as the special counsel, Lohman said that setting a hearing would mean engaging in “unnecessary additional litigation over something that will probably not occur, even if you set a date for it.”
Setting a date for a hearing before litigation is over would be a “foolish thing to do,” he added. “You are best served directing your successor counsel to move forward with concluding the item before Judge Frink and getting a final judgment and order. That order will say that [the developer is] entitled to a quasi-judicial hearing, and the city will conduct it. That’s what they are entitled to, and that is what they sued for.”
Gelin then pulled the item from the agenda.
Lohman said he knows a large portion of the Tamarac residents want the matter between the city and 13th Floor Homes to come to a conclusion and resolution, one way or the other.
“I respect those wishes, but it is more important they [the city] do it correctly and properly under the law, so it doesn’t buy itself additional vexatious litigation,” he said.
Stuart Michelson, a candidate for commission Seat 2 and director of “Save the Woodlands,” said residents are hopeful that when the summer break is over, the city commission will have a final hearing on the matter as soon as possible.
4th DCA Order Affirming Injunction - 13th Floor-C (2)
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- Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master's in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.
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