A Monroe County Circuit Court judge on Wednesday rejected an appeal that seeks to overturn plans for a new Publix market in Islamorada.
Judge Timothy J. Koenig denied a “petition for a writ of certiorari” — a step toward seeking a case review by a higher court — sought by plaintiffs who contend a site at mile marker 83 is not suitable for a planned 34,062-square-foot supermarket.
Koenig wrote in his seven-page decision that the village of Islamorada reviewed plans for the 4.6-acre site and gave opponents a chance to make their arguments. The Village Council approved the plan in September 2014.
“The court is prohibited from engaging in any policy analysis involving whether the decision to approve the Publix supermarket is a good idea or bad idea,” Koenig wrote. “Policy decisions are left to the elected legislative body and the court is prohibited from invading that legislative body’s purview or function.”
He continued, “The court is only permitted to determine whether there was competent substantial evidence to support the Village Council’s decision.”
The plaintiffs — the Bay Hammock Homeowners Association, a group called Keep Islamorada Peaceful Prosperous and Safe, along with individuals Lori Blair and Beth Kamenstein — filed the most recent petition after Islamorada’s planning director approved a “minor deviation” for a third loading dock. Koenig ruled that the change was made in accordance with permitting guidelines.
Other issues raised by the petitioners, over zoning and impacts on traffic and neighbors, could not be considered in the appeals petition filing, the judge wrote.
Equity Development Group, the project's developer, has said the store will create 100 year-round jobs and generate more than $24,000 annually in property taxes.
Opponents of the Publix placed a referendum on a November 2014 ballot asking Islamorada voters to approve a law that would limit commercial development in the village to 10,000 square feet. Voters rejected the proposal.
The building site formerly held a bowling alley, the Coral Grill restaurant and other businesses, all of which have closed or moved.
With reports by David Goodhue
Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206