County will get say on marina

Miami-Dade County commissioners are scheduled to vote Tuesday on a dredging permit to build a mega-yacht facility on Watson Island.

Island Gardens is hailed as the missing jewel in a waterfront community, a new place to spoil the locals and, it’s hoped, wealthy visitors.

When Miami commissioners let voters decide what to do with long-neglected Watson Island, they were confident that the public would go along with plans by developer Flagstone Properties.

They were right. In November 2001, after a long sales pitch, voters overwhelmingly agreed to build a mega-yacht facility, a maritime museum, new retail space and a pair of splashy hotels on the south side of the island, which helps link Miami Beach and the mainland.

Now those plans seem overly ambitious to some people, who say the project is outside the boundaries of a development plan permitted by public referendum.

Although it’s slightly ambiguous, state law says a developer can make only minimal changes to a project between the time the public votes on it and the time it’s built. Most government entities take that to mean that a change of about 5 percent is acceptable.

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