PALM BEACH COUNTY RESIDENTS JOIN SUIT AGAINST ALL ABOARD FLORIDA

Publish Date: 
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 4:45pm

Palm Beach Post
Two Palm Beach County residents joined Martin County in a federal lawsuit filed Monday to block All Aboard Florida from getting money it calls a “linchpin” to finishing its express passenger rail line.
Thomas Hewitt, who lives in Jupiter’s Admirals Cove community, and V. Michael Ferdinandi, a Palm Beach Gardens resident in Frenchman’s Reserve, are named plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“DOT’s allocation of private activity bonds to the project — the largest PAB allocation to date — is improper, unjustified and unlawful because the statute on which DOT purports to rely does not authorize the use of private activity bonds for this type of project,” the lawsuit states. “DOT appears to be trying to fit an elephant into a mouse hole.”

“Our position is they don’t have the authority to approve this,” said Martin County Attorney Michael D. Durham, whose office has been working with Washington, D.C.-based attorney Steven Ryan to fight the private rail project.

Martin County’s lawsuit follows one filed March 31 by Indian River County, which aims also to block All Aboard Florida from getting private activity bonds.

But it’s believed to be the first time Palm Beach County residents are named plaintiffs in an anti-All Aboard Florida suit.

Ferdinandi is on the steering committee of the Citizens Against Rail Expansion _ a group of Treasure Coast and Palm Beach County communities fighting All Aboard Florida.

“For us, it’s a quality of life issue as well as a safety issue,” Ferdinandi said.

A U.S. Department of Transportation spokesman said it does not comment on active litigation.

Indian River County on Monday filed a motion in its lawsuit for a temporary restraining order that it hopes will delay a pending vote by the Florida Development Finance Corp. to act as conduit issuer of All Aboard Florida’s $1.75 billion in tax exempt bonds.

BEACH COUNTY RESIDENTS JOIN SUIT AGAINST ALL ABOARD FLORIDA