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Riviera Beach Citizens Task Force v. City of Riviera Beach - 11-1501 - Order on Cross Motions for Summary Judgment

Riviera Beach Citizens Task Force v. City of Riviera Beach - 11-1501 - Order on Cross Motions for Summary Judgment

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11/14/2013

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IN
THE
CIRCUIT
COURT
OF
THE
FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL
CIRCUIT
IN
AND
FOR
PALMBEACH
COUNTY, FLORIDA
RIVIERA BEACH CITIZENS TASKFORCE, etc., et
aL,
Plaintiff(s),vs.CITY OF RIVIERA BEACH, et al.,etc.,DefendaJlt(s).
I
Case No. 502011CA001501 "DIV. AA"
ORDER
ON
CROSS
MOTIONS
FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT
This matter carne before the Court on the Plaintiff's Motion for SummaryJudgment and on the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. A hearing
was ,
conducted on both motions
on
February 21, 2013. The Court
has
reviewed thesubmissions
of
the parties, and
has
heard the argument
of
counsel. Upon consideration,the Court makes the following findings.This case is the latest chapter in a political saga relating to
the
operation, use andfuture development
of
the City
of
Riviera Beach's municipal marina and surroundingproperty. The Plaintiff, Riviera Beach Citizens Task Force (the "Task Force"), is a notfor profit corporation. The Task Force is made up of, and represents, citizens in the City
of
Riviera Beach (the "City") who are opposed
to
the leasing
of
public land
to
privatemarine interests, primarily Rybovich Marine (Rybovich Riviera Beach LLC). Morespecifically, the Task Force seeks to prevent the use
of
City property for
an
industrialcommercial boat repair operation.
l
 
To prevent the City from moving forward with plans to allow the use
of
municipalproperty for commercial boat repairs, the Task Force successfully placed a charterquestion on
the
ballot for the November 2, 2010 general election. The charter questioncalled for an amendment to Article VII, section 3.5
of
the City's charter.The charter amendment,
inter alia,
prohibited the use
of
the municipal marina foranything other
than
municipal and public uses, and specifically prohibited use
of
municipal property for an industrial commercial boat repair operation. The charteramendment was approved by the voters in the November 2, 2010 general electioneffectively accomplishing the goal
of
the Task Force.The City, and the Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, challengedthe charter amendment in circuit court on numerous grounds.
See, Riviera BeachCommunity Redevelopment Agency
eta/
v.
Riviera Beach Citizens Task Force et al,
CaseNos. 2010 CA d24434 AH and 2010 CA 024452 AH. The City's challenge to the charteramendment was unsuccessful leading
to
an
appeal to the Fourth District Court
of
Appeal.Ultimately, the Fourth District likewise rejected the City's challenges to the Task Force'scharter amendment.
See,
City
of
Riviera Beach
v.
Riviera Beach Citizens Task Force,
87So.3d
18
(Fla.
4th
DCA 2012).On January
10,
2011, before the Fourth District decided the appeal in
City
of
Riviera Beach
v.
Riviera Beach Citizens Task
Force,
the City held a closed doorexecutive session to discuss the appeal and to discuss the City's challenge to the charteramendment.
JA
this action, the Task Force alleges that the actions taken by members
of
the City council at this January
10
meeting violated Florida's Sunshine Law. Thegravamen
of
the Task Force's allegation is that the City council began a surreptitious plan2
 
to undo the results
of
the November 2, 2010 general election by proposing a new charteramendment designed to repeal the charter amendment successfully championed
by the
Task Force.
1
Of
significance to this case, a new citizens group emerged named the Committeefor a Better Riviera Beach (the "CBRB''). The CBRB supported the commercial use
of
the City marina and its goal was to repeal the changes
to
the City's charter adopted
in
theNovember 2,2010 general election. The CBRB successfully placed a new charterquestion on the ;ballot for the municipal election to be held
on
March 8, 2011.This charter amendment essentially repealed the charter amendment supported bythe Task Force· and previously approved by the electorate in the November 2, 2010general election. For the sake
of
simplicity, the March 8, 2011 charter amendmentadvanced by the CBRB will be referred to as the "repeal amendment." The repealamendment was approved by a majority
of
the electorate on March 8 once again clearingthe way for commercial use
of
the City's marina.In this ·case, the Task Force has raised several challenges
to
the repealamendment. Only one
of
these challenges has merit and the Court will address the TaskForce's assertiort that the ballot title and summary used in the March 8, 2011 election wasvague and ambiguous. Specifically, the Task Force alleges that the ballot title andsummary failed to comply with the requirements
of
Section 101.161(1) which requires aclear and unambiguous explanation
of
the proposed amendment.
1
Whether in fact a Sunshine Law violation occurred is not significant to the central issuein this case and the Court need not decide whether such a violation occurred or whethermembers
of
the City council were engaged in a surreptitious plan.3

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