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Miami judge stops construction in rare forest

Construction disputes can come from all directions.

In the latest twist on a planned development by Walmart, a Miami judge ordered construction to stop — saving an endangered pine rockland forest from being bulldozed and protecting several species of animals that aren’t found anywhere else on the planet.

The Walmart development would have been another piece of urban sprawl, with big box stores, apartment units and restaurants. Around 20 endangered animals and plants, like the brickell-bush, the indigo snake, the Miami tiger beetle, a gopher tortoise and at least two butterflies would have been likely deprived of their only known habitat and driven into extinction.

In addition, many felt that the proposed construction would have actually worsened the quality of life for other residents nearby by making traffic more congested and increasing the number of people in the area.

The president of a local activist group hand-delivered the judge’s order to the construction team, which quickly stopped their work.

The pine rocklands are only about 1 percent of their former glory outside of what lies protected inside the nearby national park. Much to the horror of onlookers, construction crews had already damaged part of the area quite heavily in the short time they had available to work.

Naturally, developers plan to appeal the decision. The litigation is likely to be ongoing for quite some while since the fighting has just begun.

Construction litigation is often very high-stakes for every group involved. There’s a lot of money to be made by developers who can build on virgin land — but environmentalists are concerned with the harm being done to the planet. They would rather see urban renewal than urban sprawl any day and are equally prepared to fight.

Cases like this illustrate why it’s important to take stock of any opposition to your construction plans and decide if it is economically feasible to fight the issue in court — or if it makes more sense to develop elsewhere.

Source: EcoWatch, “Judge Stops Walmart Shopping Center From Being Built on Endangered Florida Forest,” Lorraine Chow, Dec. 11, 2017