Further developments in Martin County versus AAF litigation.
In April, Martin County challenged the Department of Transportation (DOT) over two specific issues regarding its $1.75 billion bond allocation to the AAF project, the largest private activity bond issuance in DOT history. On July 7, the U.S. District Court Judge permitted the Counties to obtain expedited discovery sought regarding AAF’s finances, and its claim it can fund the project if public subsidy bonds are not available. The Counties will quickly obtain and review AAF financial documents. Read Martin County’s July 7 press release here.
The Court also temporarily dismissed AAF’s and DOT’s Motions to Dismiss the counties’ cases, but will consider such motions again when the discovery phase is completed, if they are refiled. This means that Martin County’s lawsuit against the Department of Transportation over AAF financing proceeds.
Commissioners receive Martin County’s boat count presentation- showing far more boats at St. Lucie River Railroad Bridge than those referenced in federal Draft Environmental Impact Statement on AAF.
The Martin County Board of County Commissioners heard a presentation during their regular meeting on July 7 about vessel traffic in the St. Lucie River at the St. Lucie River Railroad Bridge in Stuart. Martin County’s data shows there are significantly more vessel on the waterway in this location than the numbers included in the Federal Railroad Administration’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the AAF project that was issued last year. The new Martin County data indicates the DEIS is factually misleading in terms of vessel count, and Martin County is now supplying the peak boat traffic — what the average daily boat count is in those peak months, and what the average boat count is on weekends.
The DEIS used limited data collected only during the month of January. Martin County used a private engineering firm to study the county’s boat traffic for the last 12 months. The undisputed data shows that in the spring and summer months there are 83 percent more boats in the St. Lucie River Railroad Bridge area as compared to the average boat counts contained in the DEIS, which only included two weeks in January.
Martin County’s boat counts show the highest daily average to date was in April with an average of 280 boats per day. The DEIS shows the average daily boat count during daylight hours to be 121 boats per day and they included “casual observations at night” in their numbers. Additionally, Martin County’s data shows the busiest boating day is Sunday with as many as 880 boats counted on a Sunday in August 2014.
Martin County’s data shows the AAF project will adversely impact boaters with lengthy delays and create hazardous boating conditions. Click here to view Martin County’s July 7 St. Lucie Rail Bridge boat count presentation.
Florida Development Finance Corporation reschedules meeting – but AAF is not on the agenda.
A public meeting of the Florida Development Finance Corporation (FDFC) has been scheduled for July 21 at 2:00 p.m. in Orlando. The meeting agenda does not mention AAF-related business, so it is unclear if any information or decisions regarding the proposed AAF project will be discussed or made during the meeting. It appears the FDFC will subsequently have the AAF hearing on a yet to be scheduled day.
Funding for the AAF project was to have been addressed publicly at the previous scheduled meetings which had been cancelled. In advance of those meetings, Martin County made multiple attempts to seek improvements to the public comment portion of the FDFC meeting. FDFC responded that the Counties and other opponents of the AAF project would be granted an opportunity to provide an organized set of facts and arguments which had not been provided at FDFC’s April hearing on the subject.
Martin County’s legal counsel has also sent letters to the FDFC regarding issues with its board governance and composition. To date, the FDFC has not formally responded to Martin County’s correspondence on these issues.
Click here to view the letters sent to FDFC regarding issues with its board.
Martin County remains steadfast in its commitment to protecting its citizens against the negative impacts of the proposed All Aboard Florida project.
In February 2015, the Martin County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to allocate $1.4 million to fight the $3 billion AAF project. Martin County’s concerns with the project relate to public safety, marine impacts, our environment, our economy, and impacts to our quality of life.
Martin County is a conservative steward of taxpayer dollars. Expenditures related to fighting AAF are brought before the Board of County Commissioners for review and approval.
More information on the web.
Martin County has a created a webpage where the public can view AAF-related materials. Please visit www.martin.fl.us and click on Hot Topics.