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MIAMI BUILDING & CONSTRUCTION v. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
May 9, 2001
MIAMI BUILDING & CONSTRUCTION TRADES COUNCIL, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS. MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, PLAINTIFF, V. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul L. Friedman, United States District Judge
This matter is before the Court on the motion for preliminary
injunction filed by plaintiffs Miami Building & Construction Trades
Council, AFL/CIO, and Homestead Air Base Developers, Inc. ("HABDI
plaintiffs") and on the motion for preliminary injunction filed by
plaintiff Miami-Dade County. On May 3, 2001, the parties appeared before
the Court for oral argument on the motions. Upon consideration of the
briefs and supporting documentation filed by the parties and the oral
arguments of counsel, the Court denies the motions for preliminary
In early 1993, under the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of
1990, ("DBCRA of 1990"), Pub.L. 101-510, 104 Stat. 1808, the Secretary of
Defense proposed that the base be closed completely. The Defense Base
Closure and Realignment Commission recommended that 885 acres of the
original base be realigned to support the operations of the Air Force
Reserve, the Florida Air National Guard and the U.S. Customs Service. In
March 1994, the portion of the base retained for these operations was
renamed Homestead Air Reserve Station.
In July and December of 1993, the Homestead Air Force Base Reuse
Committee submitted a plan proposing that the surplus property on the
base be converted into a commercial airport. Under the plan, reserve
operations would continue on part of the base and the Air Force would
convey much of the surplus property to the County for the construction
and operation of a commercial airport. As required by the National
Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), the Air Force prepared an
environmental impact statement ("EIS"), issuing a draft in November 1993
and a final EIS in February 1994. See Federal Defendants' Consolidated
Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motions for Preliminary Injunction ("Defendants'
Opp."), Exhibit 2, Final Environmental Impact Statement, February 1994
("Final EIS"). With respect to the surplus property that the County
would receive, the Final EIS considered the impacts of four
alternatives: The first was the Reuse Committee's plan for a commercial
airport with some non-aviation uses; the second and third alternatives
combined plans for a commercial airport with various non-aviation uses;
and the fourth was a "no-action" plan.
In October 1994, the Air Force issued a Record of Decision making the
property available to the County for redevelopment as a commercial
airport. See Defendants' Opp., Exhibit 3, Record of Decision on the
Disposal of Homestead Air Force Base, October 26, 1994 ("1994 ROD").
Based on the Air Force's consideration of the Final EIS, the 1994 ROD
gave the County the right to apply for the property as an airport subject
to the Air Force's final approval of the County's plans. See id. at 13,
¶ 1. The 1994 ROD provided for alternatives for disposal of the
property if the airport plans never materialized or if the Air Force
rejected the County's plan. The 1994 ROD also made conveyances to other
federal, state and local entities not challenged in these suits.
The County began planning for the construction and operation of the
commercial airport. Instead of applying for the property immediately,
however, it entered into a series of interim leases with the Air Force.
The interim leases, each of which was for a term of six to twelve
months, provided that the lease itself was not "a commitment by the
Government as to the disposal of the Leased Premises or of Homestead
AFB, in whole or in part, to the Lessee or any agency or instrumentality
thereof. . . ." HABDI's Plaintiffs' First Motion for Preliminary
Injunction, Civil Action No. 01-0067, January 12, 2001, Affidavit of
Carlos Herrera, Jr., Exhibit 6, Department of Air Force Lease of Property
on Air Force Base at 9. During the period of the interim lease, in June
1996, the County entered into a Lease and Development Agreement with
Homestead Air Base Developers, Inc. ("HABDI") in
which, among other
things, the County agreed that it would lease the property to HABDI, that
HABDI would build and operate the airport, and that the County would
receive a portion of the revenues. The Lease and Development Agreement
was conditioned upon the County receiving a 30-year lease or a fee simple
conveyance of the property from the Air Force.
On December 31, 1996, the County applied to the Air Force for the
surplus property at Homestead. Prior to the submission of the County's
application, environmental groups raised concerns with the Air Force that
the Final EIS inadequately addressed the environmental impacts associated
with the airport, partly because of changed circumstances. Subsequently,
in light of these alleged deficiencies, the Air Force and the Federal
Aviation Administration conducted a review of the Final EIS revealing
that there indeed were new circumstances: (1) the County's application
predicted commercial jet operations at twice the level that was originally
envisioned, and (2) the proposed airport's ground facilities were much
more extensive than first proposed. In December 1997, the Air Force and
the FAA announced that they would supplement the Final EIS.
In December 1999, after conducting public meetings and receiving
comments from interested parties, the Air Force and the FAA issued a
draft supplement to the Final EIS, and on December 7, 2000, they issued
the Final Supplemental Environment Impact Statement ("SEIS"). See
Defendants' Opp., Exhibit 1, SEIS. The SEIS considered four
alternatives: (1) development of a commercial airport along the lines of
the original proposal, (2) development of a spaceport, (3) mixed-use
development involving commercial, industrial and/or residential uses but
without a commercial airport, and (4) a "no action" alternative. The
SEIS analyzed four scenarios for mixed-use development: (1) a land-swap
proposal submitted by the Collier Resource Company, (2) a proposal
submitted by Hoover Environmental Group, (3) a combination of the Collier
and Hoover plans, and (4) a market-based scenario.
In the SEIS, the Air Force concluded that both the commercial airport
and the mixed-use development plan would generate economic benefits for
the region and expressed a preference for either alternative. The FAA
preferred the commercial airport. The Department of the Interior favored
the mixed-use plan for development of the base, specifically the
land-swap proposal submitted by Collier. The EPA also favored the
mixed-use plan. On December 14, 2000, Interior sent a letter to the Air
Force asking that the property be transferred to Interior so it could act
on the Collier land-swap plan. The County objected to this request.
On January 12, 2001, the HABDI plaintiffs filed Civil Action No.
01-0067. When defendants issued the 2001 ROD, the HABDI plaintiffs'
complaint and first motion for preliminary injunction were rendered
moot. On March 8, 2001, the HABDI plaintiffs filed their first verified
amended complaint contending that: (1) the Air Force violated the DBCRA
laws and the Administrative Procedure Act by deciding to prepare and
issue the SEIS, (2) the Air Force violated the DBCRA and the APA when it
issued the 2001 ROD, (3) the Air Force violated the DBCRA and the APA
when it considered the late request by Interior for the land, (4) the Air
Force violated the DBCRA and the APA when it failed to transfer the land
to the County pursuant to the 1994 ROD, and (5) the Air Force violated
the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution by denying plaintiffs their equal
protection and due process rights.
On March 12, 2001, plaintiff Miami-Dade County filed Civil Action No.
01-0556. In Count 1, the County claimed that the request by Interior for
the surplus land was unlawful under Section 2904 of the Defense Base
Closure and Realignment Act of 1993, ("DBCRA of 1993"). Count 2 claimed
that the SEIS and the 2001 ROD violated Section 2911 of the DBCRA of
1993. Count 3 claimed that the issuance of the 2001 ROD and the decision
made by the Air Force in the 2001 ROD were arbitrary and capricious. On
March 16, 2001, the County gave notice to the Air Force that while
continuing with this lawsuit, it also would develop plans for mixed-use
development and apply for the property under the terms of the 2001 ROD.
The County's decision triggered the running of the six-month time period
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