FEDERAL JUDGE DISMISSES COUNTIES'S CHALLENGE TO ALL ABOARD FLORIDA

Publish Date: 
Thursday, May 11, 2017 - 12:30pm

Yesterday, Federal Judge Christopher Cooper dismissed Martin and Indian River counties' lawsuits against the All Aboard Florida passenger railroad project. We'd like to thank our representatives of these counties for their hard work to protect the citizens and environment of Florida.

For almost two years, Indian River and Martin counties maintained a legal battle - costing more than $6 million - that the $1.75 billion worth of private-activity bonds issued to All Aboard Florida were unlawful due to improper environmental reviews.

In October, AAF revealed that it planned to scrap its financing plan of $1.75 billion of tax-free bonds and pursue $600 million exclusively for the first phase of their projects. This has been indicated as of why the Florida counties were dismissed.

"The facts are clear - AAF is seeking to avoid judicial review of the project... with the apparent blessing of DOT," Steven Ryan, Martin County's outside legal counsel, said in court documents. "DOT and AAF characterize this application as 'new,' but AAF is merely reshuffling its capital stack to avoid being subjected to further (environmental) review."

"Although the case was dismissed by Judge Cooper ... the ruling includes a severe warning to US DOT should it issue another (public-activity bond) request for the AAF project without first complying with the nation’s environmental laws, stating ‘if DOT were to do so, plaintiffs could readily call it to the carpet by renewing their lawsuits in this court,'" CARE FL Chairman Brent Hanlon said in a statement Wednesday. “CARE FL congratulates Martin and Indian River counties for their legal efforts and considers this lawsuit a resounding win for the residents of the Treasure Coast and North Palm Beach regions."

Read more here.

Original article written by Lisa Broadt of the TC Palm.