Miami-Dade Legislative Item
File Number: 111311
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File Number: 111311 File Type: Resolution Status: Adopted
Version: 0 Reference: R-561-11 Control: Board of County Commissioners
File Name: DERM WETLANDS ADVISORY TASK FORCE Introduced: 6/13/2011
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action: 7/7/2011
Agenda Date: 7/7/2011 Agenda Item Number: 11A3
Sponsors: Lynda Bell, Prime Sponsor
Sunset Provision: No Effective Date: Expiration Date:
Registered Lobbyist: None Listed

Legislative History

Acting Body Date Agenda Item Action Sent To Due Date Returned Pass/Fail

Board of County Commissioners 7/7/2011 11A3 Adopted P
REPORT: Commissioner Moss expressed appreciation to Commissioner Jordan for clarifying for the record that the 8.5 Square Mile Area (SMA) was in Commission District 9. He said the issues of the 8.5 SMA involved ongoing conflicts with residents of the Las Palmas Community, the Everglades National Park, the farmers, the Miccosukee Indian Reservation, various environmental communities, South Florida Water Management District, the Army Corp of Engineers, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Department of Environmental Resource Management (DERM), and people referencing legislation proposed by Congressman Dante Fascell. Commissioner Moss noted when he came to office, he convened a meeting of these groups to resolve their issues, but he had to adjourn it because attendees were verbally assaulting DERM’s staff. The Commissioner noted that because so many diverse interests were involved, no compromise could be reached. He said that residents claimed their rights had been violated and filed law suits; however, in most cases, the Courts had ruled in favor of DERM’s actions. He noted the County could not heap blame on DERM regarding these issues. Commissioner Moss said he supported this resolution and commended Commissioner Bell for jumping in to work out these issues. He opined that the proposed process would be difficult, and said he hoped something positive would come out of it. Chairman Martinez noted he recalled the confusion when some of the people wanted a levee built and others did not want it. Commissioner Moss said that some folks wanted to incorporate the area or farm it, but it would never be a city because it was too close to the Everglades National Park. Commissioner Bell expressed appreciation to Commissioner Moss for his support and providing background on the issues. She said this resolution would simply create a task force to determine if the issues could be resolved, and that it was not being proposed in opposition to DERM. She noted regardless of its efforts, the County would always receive some backlash from this area. Hearing no further comments or questions, the Board voted on this resolution as presented. Note: During consideration of the changes to today’s (7/7) agenda, a scrivener’s error existing in the foregoing resolution was corrected as follows: On handwritten page 4 under Section No. 2 and 3, County Manager should be replaced with County Mayor or Mayor’s designee.

County Manager 7/6/2011 Scrivener's Errors
REPORT: On handwritten page 4 under Section 2 No. 2 and 3, County Manager should be replaced with County Mayor or Mayor's designee.

Infrastructure and Land Use Committee 6/15/2011 2E Forwarded to BCC with a favorable recommendation P
REPORT: Note: After conducting the Public Hearing Workshop on a related matter, the Committee reconvened today’s (6/15) ILUC meeting to consider the foregoing resolution. Assistant County Attorney Geri Bonzon-Keenan read the foregoing proposed resolution into the record. Chairwoman Edmonson opened the public hearing and called for persons wishing to speak in connection with this resolution, and the following persons appeared: 1. Mr. James Humble, (no address provided), appeared in support of the resolution, and commended Mr. Dallas Manuel, District 9 Commissioner Moss’s Aide, for attending all the Agricultural Practices Advisory Board meetings. He said that Mr. Manuel was well aware of the farming issues concerning the East Everglades. He noted the wetlands law really needed to be reviewed consistently with the State and Federal laws to determine its impact on the sustainability of farming communities in Miami-Dade County. 2. Ms. Laura Reynolds, 5530 Sunset Drive, representing the Tropical Audubon Society, appeared in opposition to this resolution, and expressed appreciation to Commissioner Jordan for her comments on DERM, the wetlands, and clean water. She noted she was aware that this proposal would be coming forth based on the outcome of Commissioner Bell’s town hall meeting; however, she had no idea that it would be placed on today’s agenda and had no time to learn how the Miami-Dade County Wetlands Advisory Task Force (TF) would be structured. She noted her reason for opposing the TF was that its outcome would impact every wetland in the County, not just the wetlands in the subject 8.5 Square Mile Area (SMA). She urged the Committee to table this resolution to another time. 3. Ms. Alice Pena, 14390 SW 199 Avenue, appeared in support and noted the proposed TF would not consider just the 8.5 SMA, but all the wetlands in the County. She noted some people had been overzealous in doing their jobs, and the subject community had been the victims. Ms. Pena said that the subject area continued to be categorized as wetlands, but it had been farmlands for a while, and still was. She noted this had been a thirty (30) year ordeal involving multiple agencies and was not DERM’s fault. Ms. Pena said she looked forward to new changes and felt the proposed TF would be the best way to move forward and assure that past mistakes would not be repeated in the future. Chairwoman Edmonson closed the public hearing after seeing no one else wishing to speak in connection with this resolution. Commissioner Bell noted the intent of this proposal was simply to form a task force that would review information about wetlands in an open forum and make non-binding recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners. She noted this was not just about the 8.5 SMA, nor was it an anti-environment, anti-wetlands undertaking; but instead, it was about bringing people together in a fact finding mission to review the process used for determining/classifying wetland areas. Commissioner Bell explained that the members of the TF would be chosen in a very democratic process by the Commission as a body, and be required to provide a report to the County Commission within six months after it was created. It would also sunset in six months, she noted. Commissioner Bell further noted the reason this resolution was placed on today’s agenda was to allow the people speaking at the related workshop on DERM’s enforcement in Las Palmas to also speak on this item. She noted there was no hidden agenda. Commissioner Bell further noted that the County Commission was responsible for providing better outreach to property owners of environmentally sensitive lands so that they could better understand the permitting process and wetland requirements. She said she spoke with Mr. Pedro Garcia, the County’s Property Appraiser, about including information on property tax documents, as well as the website of Miami-Dade County regarding properties classified as environmentally sensitive lands. Commissioner Bell expressed appreciation to Mr. Hefty, Director of DERM, for working with staff, her office and assisting the CAO in drafting this resolution. Commissioner Jordan referred to the TF membership qualifications listed on handwritten page 4 of this resolution, and asked the sponsor if she would consider amending it to delete the language regarding DERM’s fee structure. She noted she believed the qualifications dealt with the TF members responsibilities to make recommendations for revisions to the wetlands regulations and to DERM’s fee structure; however, she believed the Commission should be responsible for the fees. She noted that not allowing the TF to consider DERM’s fee structure would result in the TF providing more wholesome recommendations concerning wetlands. Commissioner Bell noted although she was agreeable to the will of this Committee, she preferred to keep the language and allow the TF to review the fee structure as an advisory board because the fees were an issue that was raised by the people often. She noted she included DERM’s fee structure because it was a fifty-page document, and she wanted the TF to review it and clarify its purpose. Commissioner Jordan noted she tied the fee schedule to the qualifications of the TF members because the persons reviewing the fees should have knowledge and expertise on environmental issues. Commissioner Bell clarified that the fee schedule pretained to fees, not fines. She said the intent was not to be punitive, but to allow the TF to review it, and possibly put it to rest. She asked Mr. Hefty if it was appropriate for the TF to review DERM’s fee schedule. Office of Sustainability Director Susanne Torriente suggested a compromise to include as part of the TF members’ qualifications, the ability to consider fee schedules. Assistant County Attorney Robert Duvall clarified that the fifty-page fee schedule covered all fees related to DERM, and the TF would be limited to reviewing only the fees pertaining to the Wetlands permitting process. In response to Chairwoman Edmonson’s request for clarification that the TF would only consider DERM’s permitting fees and not fines, and its members would be required to present their recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners for review and approval, Assistant County Attorney Duvall noted that was correct, based on the way this resolution was written. Mr. Hefty concurred that the fees were different from fines. He noted DERM was involved in many environmental protection projects that involved fees, and it would certainly be under the purview of the proposed TF to review the wetlands permitting fees. Following Commissioner Diaz’ comments that he believed it was logical and transparent for the proposed TF to review DERM’s fee schedule to see if it had any benefit or harm; the Committee proceeded to vote on this resolution as presented.

County Manager 6/14/2011 Additions 6/15/2011

County Attorney 6/13/2011 Assigned Robert A. Duvall 6/13/2011

County Attorney 6/13/2011 Referred Infrastructure and Land Use Committee 6/15/2011

Legislative Text



WHEREAS, on March 3, 2011, a Town Hall meeting was held in South Miami-Dade to address the concerns of residents regarding wetlands enforcement activities by the Department of Environmental Resources Management (�DERM�); and

WHEREAS, many County residents voiced their belief that DERM is improperly enforcing wetlands permitting regulations; and
WHEREAS, residents also voiced concern that the mitigation impact fees required by DERM to obtain a wetlands permit are excessive,
Section 1. Creation; Purpose.
There is hereby created and established for a term of six (6) months an advisory task force to be known as the Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resources Management Wetlands Advisory Task Force (hereinafter referred to as the �DWATF�) for the purpose of
(a) Reviewing the process that is used in classifying and determining wetland designations.
(b) Determining whether the appeals process is fair, adequate and allows for due-process.
(c) Investigate ways of providing enhanced outreach to property owners located in environmentally sensitive areas regarding environmental permitting requirements that may be applicable to their properties.
(d) Provide advice and recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners regarding revisions to wetlands regulations in Chapter 24 of the Miami-Dade County Code and any DERM fees related thereto.
Section 2. Membership; appointment and removal.
(a) The DWATF shall have 7 members. Each member shall be a resident and elector of Miami-Dade County unless the Board of County Commissioners, by a two-thirds vote of its membership, waives this requirement. Members should have reputations for integrity and community service and have an interest in a field or activity related to or affected by the wetlands regulations in Chapter 24 of the Miami-Dade Code. The DWATF shall be composed of the following members:
1) Each member of the Board of County Commissioners may nominate person(s) meeting the above qualification requirements and the Board will select six (6) persons for membership on the Task Force.
2) The County Mayor or Mayor's designee may recommend to the Board of County Commissioners candidates for Task Force membership from governmental agencies and educational institutions on the basis of technical expertise regarding wetlands which will facilitate the work of the DWATF.
3) The County Mayor or Mayor's designee shall appoint one (1) member to the Task Force.
4) The DERM shall invite representatives from the State of Florida�s Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to participate as non-voting members.
The members of the DWATF shall serve without compensation.
(b) Members may be removed in accordance with the provisions of Section 2-11.38 of the County Code. Any member who can no longer serve shall be replaced in accordance with the manner and criteria used in making the initial appointment.
Section 3. Quorum; organization and procedures at meetings
(a) A quorum shall be a majority of the duly appointed and sitting members.
(b) At the initial meeting, a Chair and Vice-chair shall be elected by a majority vote of the members in attendance. The DWATF shall adopt rules of procedure for its own governance.
(c) The DWATF shall hold not less than five (5) meetings.
Section 4. Responsibilities of the DERM Advisory Task Force.
The primary responsibility of the DWATF is to make recommendations the Board of County Commissioners as to the matters identified in Section 1 above, including any specific recommended revisions to the wetlands regulations in Chapter 24 of the Miami-Dade County Code and any DERM fees related thereto. Within the six (6) month term of its existence the DWATF shall provide a written report of its recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners.
The DWATF shall have no authority to commit Miami-Dade County to any policies, to incur any financial obligations or to create any liability on the part of the County. The actions and recommendations of the DWATF are advisory only and shall not be binding upon the County.
Section 5. Physical facilities, staff and supplies.
(a) The County shall provide the DWATF with appropriate meeting facilities, together with necessary supplies and equipment.
(b) The County Mayor or Mayor's designess shall provide necessary staffing assistance to the DWATF.

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