Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s veto Thursday of an industrial park near the Everglades is putting a spotlight on Key Biscayne’s representative in county government — District 7 Commissioner Raquel Regalado.
As of Thursday, Regalado wasn’t saying whether she would vote to override the veto or not.
Levine Cava vetoed an application to expand the Urban Development Boundary, the line that separates the Everglades from developed sections of the county.
“This application prioritizes short-term financial gain – with no guarantee of job creation – at the expense of our shared economic prosperity and our precious natural environment,” Levine Cava said. In her veto message, she outlined a series of risks ranging from water quality in Biscayne Bay to flooding and sea level rise that would be worsened if the project were to advance.
Developers say the project would create thousands of jobs and would have environmental safeguards.
Regalado was part of the 8-vote majority that approved the application Nov. 1, switching from a “no” to a “yes” when the developer behind the proposal offered to purchase 600 acres of land outside the UDB and donate it to county conservation programs. Eight votes is enough to override, but a spokeswoman for Regalado said the commissioner had no comment on Levine Cava’s veto. If an override attempt is to be made, it must come Tuesday according to the County Charter.
In Key Biscayne, environmental leaders hailed the mayor’s veto.
“The UDB is critical for maintaining the division between our developed areas and the Everglades,” said Julie Dick, an environmental law expert. “It protects our water supply, sea level rise, and it preserves a lot of natural habitat.”
Rumya Sundaram, an environmental scientist and the director of Environmental Science for the Key Biscayne Citizen Science program, agreed.
“We just had another fish kill in Biscayne Bay,” she said, stressing that more development past the UDB created more water quality risk in a bay that is already struggling with low oxygen levels needed to sustain marine life.
“It’s not doing anything for the greater good,” she said.
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.