Cities, Lobbyists In Multi-Million Dollar Fight Over The Commons


One of the last big stretches of Broward open space is the focus of a fierce multi-million dollar fight over its future.

Battling are almost two dozen lobbyists and some of the most powerful politicians in Broward.

It all comes to a head Tuesday afternoon at the Broward County Commission. 

Commissioners will either approve the upscale shopping center and office complex The Commons on 152 acres along Interstate 75 in Davie. 

Or they will reject it because the land abuts single family homes and ranches on three sides.  And because the project would create too much traffic.  

The property today is a bit of old Broward.  Empty grass land, dotted with a few trees and a patch of wetlands.

A cow’s wet nose pokes through the fence, glistening in the sun.  Egrets peck the dirt. Horse flies buzz in the afternoon.

This land is too valuable — it it valued at $18.3 million for tax purposes — to lie vacant forever.  It lies on the east side of the intersection of Royal Palm Boulevard and I-75.

Debate over The Commons has sparked a classic land use dilemma.

One of the rules of smart land use planning is to put intensive, high impact developments like The Common along highways.

The Commons developer pledges it will feature town squares, open air posh restaurants, high end shops, a children’s park  and prime mid-rise offices.

If you can’t build a smart project like The Commons along an Interstate, where can you build it?

This one would be right at an exit.

Planning concepts don’t matter to the neighbors of big projects like The Commons.  They are more concerned about preserving their lifestyle.

That’s why the term NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) is a familiar term among planners.

Residents in western Davie hate The Commons.  They say it will bring noise and light pollution to their leafy neighborhoods.

The Commons will build a 30-foot berm around the property, topped with 15-to-20 feet of landscaping.   The Commons will incorporate so-called Dark Sky lighting, which point the brightness towards the ground and away from the neighbors.

Neighbors don’t care.

“The developers proposed construction of a 30 (foot) dirt mound with trees on top to hide the development is a self admission of the magnitude and lack of compatibility of this project, Davie resident Mohan Menon wrote county commissioners. 

Neighbors want the property to stay vacant, an unrealistic stance.

As a fallback, they want the current land use to prevail and the property developed at one luxury home to the acre.  This would be compatible with the single family homes and ranches nearby.

One of those neighbors is Property Appraiser Lori Parrish.  She has marshaled considerable political skills learned over 25 years in public life to block the project.

Parrish told me that blocking The Commons is her number one political goal. She is calling everyone she knows to accomplish it.

The City of Weston commissioners have joined Parrish.  They complain that The Commons will pour traffic unto their streets.

Traffic is The Commons major problem.

As part of their proposal, The Commons plan to widen Royal Palm Boulevard, South Post Road and Weston Road to cope with the added cars and trucks.

All the roads are in Weston.  Weston “established legislative policy of not widening roadways, says City Manager John Flint.

Weston has spent tens of thousands of dollars on lobbyists in Broward, Washington and Tallahassee to stop the project. 

Promoting the project are at least 17 lobbyists registered to represent Davie Commons Holdings and its parent company, the Turnberry developers based in Aventura.

The lobbying costs to this point are estimated to be well over $1 million.

Helping this massive lobbying team is the Davie Town Council.

The town has about $2 billion of land off its tax rolls in the education center downtown.  It covets the millions in tax money The Commons would provide, says Davie Mayor Tom Truex.

Weston grumbles that will get all the traffic, while Davie will get all the taxes.

County commissioners are due to decide the fate of The Commons on Tuesday. 

The vote is said by both sides to be a tossup, although I count it as leaning 5-4 against the project.

There is only one sure thing about the future of that sprawling piece of South Broward that is now home to cows:  It won’t stay vacant for long.   

12 Responses to “Cities, Lobbyists In Multi-Million Dollar Fight Over The Commons”

  1. Give It Up says:

    Let’s see, Davie gets the tax revenue and Weston gets all the traffic, and a destruction of the lush landscaping that is a hallmark of this pristine community.

    Has anyone asked whether this project currently has the same economic forecast that it first presented pre-recession?

  2. Politically Correct says:

    I find Lori Parrish to be extremely selfish and very one-sided. There should be an article about her abuse of power. She is constantly speaking out against “The Commons.” She needs to decide whether she is speaking as a Broward county resident or a Broward county official. It is extremely unethical to utilize one’s political power to gain personally. Everytime she has spoken publically she introduces herself as Lori Parrish, Broward County’s Property Appraiser. I feel that if you are going to introduce yourself as the property appraiser, you should speak on the best interests of the residents you represent. As a western Broward county resident I would like my property value to increase and my taxes to be reduced. I feel that “The Commons” will bring up property value and nothing but positive to Broward County, that should be Lori Parrish’s #1 political goal. Everyday Broward county residents are losing there home to forclosure and so many people are losing their jobs. Lets not forget how many jobs “The Commons” will bring here to broward county. PIMBY – – – -Please In My Back Yard)

  3. Weston Resident says:

    I am just dumbfounded that this even continues to be such a debate. The Commons is a fantastic project, and will bring wonderful things; money, jobs, stores, restaurants to our county. So my question is – why would anyone care to fight this? As Mr. Nevins said – it is because it is in their backyard… well first of all, I know people who live in the area and love the project. Most of whom are too scared to be public about it. When I first learned about the project, as a Weston resident, I was excited. But heard that some local residnets were unhappy so I went to their neighborhood to see what it was currently like…And what I was found simple – right now they see and hear the highway. That is it. I then spoke to someone from The Commons about their plans to seperate the project from the residents and they showed me the pictures; what was mistakenly described as a “dirt mound” in the blog/article above, really will be a beautiful buffer with lots of vegitation. The neighbors will see nothing but beauty – which is why so many are excited about this project! Why would anyone pick the highway sound and view over such a pretty one??? Plus, fantastic restaurants and stores will be right near by. Also, while the Weston Commission has taken a public stance against The Commons, I think it is a very wrong decision. They have been elected to represent us, their constituents, and by taking that position they are doing a poor job. Myself, my neighbors, my friends and my collegues who live in the area all love The Commons. I hope the Broward County Commission does a better job of representing their constituents than our local municipality is doing. So, Mr. Nevins – from the bottom of my heart- I hope that your prediction is WRONG and The Commons passes with flying colors. I wish I could be there to see it happen and voice my opinion, but unfortunately the meeting is right in the middle of the work day…

  4. Broward County ResidentFor The Commons says:

    Come Tuesday afternoon, I hope that the Broward County officials remember that they were elected to act in the best interests of the entire county, not just a few. Unemployment is currently at an all time high and property values are dropping everyday. The Commons has been extremely accommodating to all who may be effected by its construction. I hope there will be an increase in traffic, that will mean that more people are driving to work (because now they may have a job)or even better people may have a little extra money to spend on dining out or shopping for gifts for friends.

  5. Raymond Horan says:

    What is not touched on is that The Commons also plans on donating land for a police work station.

    We need job’s in this economy. We also need more Tax money. This will also give 1000’s of jobs to construction workers. Not including all the jobs that will open up after the project is complete.

    I am 99.9% sure the same people lobbying against this project will spend their hard-earned money at these shops.

    What really baffle’s me is the Property Appraiser is against a project that should increase the value of her and her neighbors property.

    As a resident of Davie I am 100% for this project. I would like to have a place like this in my backyard. Wake up Davie it is 2008!

    I support The Common’s Project!

  6. Say YES to The Commons says:

    The title, “Cities, Lobbyists In Multi-Million Dollar Fight Over The Commons” got my attention very quickly. The only thing I can think of is, what a waste of money. As this article states, the location chosen for this development is ideal. It will be right off of the highway, and I fail to see how anyone could find issue with that. The Commons is great for both our County and local municipalities (both Davie and Weston) This should really be all that matters. On december 9th I hope the commons moves closer to becoming a reality.

  7. Norm says:

    I am the president of a homeowners assoc. that has 5% of the homes in foreclosure. What do we as a board do to make up the lost revenue? Now put yourself in place of The Broward County Commissioners. They along with every community in Florida are short revenue. Like we must do, they must do and that is to raise taxes as we must raise maintenance fees. The Town of Davie will realize over 3 million dollars in revenue from The Commons with no real services (Fire & Police) plus 6,000 permanent jobs which also brings revenue to the Town. If you build 150 homes, you will have to provide those services plus build schools for the families. As you can see, one is a tax burden and one is a tax payer.It will be irresponsible to vote against this project.

  8. Say yes to the Commons - say no to Lori Parrish says:

    Who in the world gave Lori Parrish all this power? Who in the world cares what Lori Parrish says? She is not the only one who lives in Weston and does not have the right to have the final say on anything related to the Commons. I thought we were dealing with a property appraiser who was elected to appraise our properties and not make it her number one political goal to kill the Commons project. This project needs to happen!!! This project is a necessity and will be extremely beneficial so it is time to listen to what it will do for us and ignore Lori Parrish.

  9. John, a West Davie resident says:

    The developer (Turnberry) is required to present to a very few resident groups before going to the respected governmental bodies for approvals. This developer has presented to many, many homeowners groups (mine included, who endoresed the project). What is and has been the ONE truth and straight reaction is this: whnever the residents had concerns, this group of planners thought about how they cpould make the project better. It was good right from the start, but as we have seen it develop over the past couple of years, it becaom great. What Mr. Nevins misses is that that 30 foot hill and landscaping details came out of ideas from these same residents who are supposed to be”Nimbys”. My question is if they have had a great say in how this project has evolved, why are they still opposed? Why did they negotiate, speak to and help with these green ideas? I say yes to this project, however, I also say we should keep a very, very close eye to make sure what the developer promises stays true. Everyone also knows that IF this project was on “Weston Land” the project would have already been built and probably without the real foresight and care this developer is taking on behalf of residents. Say yes to The Commons, we need the jobs and need the revenue…


    This article discusses a lot but does not mention that The Commons will bring in thousands of new jobs. During this terrible economic time, we need these jobs. As a Davie resident I was very happy when The Commons was passed in our town, and I am really looking forward to seeing it built. I think it is interesting that while so many of us are in desperate need of jobs to simply make ends meat, this article is discussing how there are a few people who are worried that it will affect their view or lifestyle (when we know it really will not anyway). How could the livelyhood of so many even be compared to whether a few people may be unhappy because of a view or a few extra cars. I feel as if we all lose site of what is important, and in this economy if someone is willing to bring jobs to our county, we should embrace them. The Commons is a wonderful concept and will be an incredible center.

  11. Ellis Traub says:

    It’s pretty obvious to me that we’re coming to a “high-noon” kind of showdown in Broward (and Davie) politics. The objections to the project have become progressively sillier and, at this point, are rather obvious attempts to come up with some credible excuse for them voting to please–or appease–the few who seem to have the power.

    We’re about to see whether these few politicians and their cronies from the stables, sitting around the stove at the feed store, are going to continue to run Broward County to suit themselves at the expense of the rest of us, or whether the compelling need for jobs and tax revenues will give our Commissioners the courage to vote their consciences and do what they know in their heart of hearts is best for their constituencies.

    It will be interesting to see who is going to rise above their concerns about the consequence of defying those political throwbacks
    and do the right thing. Of course there’s strength in numbers, so maybe they’ll all do it.

    Have we yet grown up or are we still just a sleepy horse-town?

  12. Norm says:

    If The Davie Town Council spent a half million dollors of tax money (As did Weston) to fight a project of any kind without public hearings, they would be hung in effigy.