Environmentalists: Planned Sunrise Development Threatens Everglades


Sunrise is at it again and this time it could affect folks living far from his fiefdom.

Mayor Roger Wishner and his city hall drones are about to approve an office park, which would be shoehorned into land between the Sawgrass Expressway and the Everglades. 

Sheila Alu Is Fighting With Environmentalists Against Development


The mad men in city hall want warehouses and an office complex directly up against South Florida’s source of drinking water! 

Environmentalists are fighting this and flooding city hall with e-mail.  They believe that any pollution rolling off the asphalt parking lots could flow into where we get our water.

Wishner favored this project last time it came up at the city commission.  So did Commissioners Joey Scuotto and Don Rosen.

Commissioner Larry Sofield is their hand picked appointee to the commission, so I figure he will vote with his patrons.

On the side of the environment is Commissioner Sheila Alu, who has fought the project from the start.    The last time it came up, she was the lone vote against it. 

This time she has help: The South Florida Audubon Society and the Broward Sierra Club members.

Unfortunately, those who care about the environment are outgunned.

Pushing for the development is land use lawyer Dennis Mele and his crew from the law firm of Ruden McClosky.  Name partner Don McClosky is the guy who once told me the concrete block should be the symbol of Florida. 

Mele currently has another controversial client — The Davie Commons. 

The law firm throws $1000s to city commission candidates.  Wishner and Sofield are up for re-election next year.   Scuotto and Rosen just got re-elected. 

Get the picture?

Another member of the development team: Rhon Ernest-Jones, former mayor of Coral Springs, who’s firm is apparently doing engineering for the project.

I fear in this battle the environmentalists are like the army of Lichtenstein lining up against Germany. 

But I’ve got one question to ask Wishner and his drones in city hall.  Is there any part of Sunrise that you don’t want to pave over?


Here is the e-mail that was sent to Broward environmentalists about the pending commission action.  It says it all:


At the City Commission meeting on 4/28/09, the City of Sunrise will consider another blatant attack on the sanctity of the Everglades by allowing the development of the Everglades Corporate Park on the very edge of Water Conservation Area 2 that cleanses the water that supplies the Everglades and recharges the Biscayne Aquifer.


The Park will consist of a 10-story office complex and hundreds of thousands of square feet of industrial and warehouse space and will be the only development west of the Sawgrass Expressway.


Any significant chemical spill in this area will affect all of South Florida through intrusion into the aquifer and will have the potential to damage the food chain throughout the Everglades. This includes diesel fuel and oil from construction machinery, pollution from the runoff of vehicle emissions in parking lots, and various other chemicals common to industrial parks.


The project, located just north of Sunrise Boulevard and just west of I-75, will overlook the River of Grass that we are trying so desperately to restore. This will only serve to set a precedent that other money hungry developers will be quick to follow, and so far, it has been quietly helped along by a compliant City of Sunrise and the same set of lawyers and lobbyists that are behind the proposed Cocomar development in Coconut Creek,.


Kentucky-based Sawgrass Investors, and its team, the Ruden McClosky legal and lobbying firm, Rhon Ernest-Jones, a former Coral Springs mayor whose firm is engineering the project, along with the development’s lobbyist, Dennis Mele, have entered the back door of the City of Sunrise in the same quiet, underhanded fashion in which they infiltrated Coconut Creek.


Commissioner Sheila Alu is to be commended for her lone dissenting vote: “I don’t think I’ve ever been more opposed to anything in my eight years being on this commission. As you can see how close this area is to the Everglades, the only thing that buffers it is the C-13 canal… I am going to do everything in my power to fight any negative impact that this development could possibly have on the ecosystem.”


It is time to give Ms Alu some much needed help, and stand up for the Everglades. If Florida is really going to make some progress in restoring the Everglades, we must see that this kind of development is stopped before it begins. Please help us make the City of Sunrise Commission understand that the environment is much more important than filling some already well-stuffed pockets.


If you can make it, please attend the Commission meeting on 4/28/09. The City Commission office is on the fourth floor of City Hall, 10770 West Oakland Park Boulevard, Sunrise, FL. 33351.


Please email the Sunrise City Commission to voice your disapproval of this unwelcome precedent.


Mayor Roger B. Wishner, Deputy Mayor Donald K. Rosen, Assistant Deputy Mayor Sheila D. Alu, Commissioner Joseph A. Scuotto, Commissioner Lawrence A. Sofield.






Grant Campbell

Audubon South Florida

Director of Wildlife Policy

Conservation and Environment Chair

14 Responses to “Environmentalists: Planned Sunrise Development Threatens Everglades”

  1. No Excuse says:

    The recession is no excuse for this development, although I’m sure they will use it as one of their arguments. The recession will be gone, however, the damage done to the Everglades is forever.

  2. Floridan says:

    If this project requires a change in land use designation, it will have to run the gauntlet at the County.

    I’m not so sure it will fare as well there.

  3. Democrat says:

    I wonder how Roger Wishner will justify his vote. He is a terrible disappointment. What kind of $$$ is he getting for his mayor’s race?

  4. Something About Sheila says:

    There’s something about Commissioner Alu that is both delightful and troubling. She pleases her observers about as often as she troubles them. There’s a certain instability, a certain inner searching perhaps, a sense of turmoil, a certain lack of predictability after eight years of service that you don’t often see in elected officials. Wishner is really not much different than Ferren was. Rosen is along for the ride. Scuotto is relishing his new role as “outsider looking in.” But it falls to Sheila to be the vote that nails down issues in Sunrise. In that sense, she is the most powerful one on that commission. I just wish she was more stable in her votes and personal behavior.

  5. Commissioner Alu says:

    Wishner has been a great Mayor and works very hard for the citizens of Sunrise. This is an issue coming before the commission on Tuesday. I’m sure everyone will do the right thing on this important vote!

  6. Resident says:

    Roger has only been Mayor for a couple of months (under questionable circumstances, and never actually elected to the job). That doesn’t make him “great.” He may be OK, but he jumps from job to job: City Commissioner (quit), State Rep. (quit), failed for County Commission, City Commissioner, inherited Mayor, and I don’t know what else.

    I think he is just waiting for his next political step. Not really that stable in any position. If he holds the office for a few years, then lets see if he was really “great.” It’s way to early now.

  7. Commissioner Alu says:

    Something about Sheila:

    My personal life couldn’t be more stable. For that matter, there are only a handful of people that I allow into my personal life, so I’m not quite sure how you could even comment about my private life.

    As far as my votes on the commission, I cast my votes on issues with great thought, with the data that is provided to me and only in the best interest of the residents of Sunrise.

    And Feren couldn’t hold a candle to Roger as the Mayor of this City!

  8. Sunrise Resident says:

    Can somebody tell me just what Roger Wishner did during his years in office either in Sunrise or Tallahassee? other than live off our taxes?

  9. Resident says:

    I don’t know how you can say that Feren can’t hold a candle to Wishner as Mayor. Wisher has barely even served as Mayor. He virtually has no track record as Mayor. He can’t be compared to anyone yet.

    If you have already concluded that Wisher is better than Feren “as Mayor,” that only means that you so disliked Feren that anyone would be better as Mayor.

    If this is any example how you jump to conclusions without a basis to make a decision, it shows a weakness in your abilities. Only after careful review and time can you conclude anything.

    So far I haven’t concluded anything about Mayor Wisher as a Mayor. I have concerns, not no decision. I have concluded about him in his prior positions (which is lacking). However, I can make conclusions of you as a Commissioner, and it isn’t looking to good at this point.

    Actually, as a group, I have a concern about the entire Commission. Right now I don’t know whose interests the Commission is looking after but their own.

  10. Something About Sheila says:

    See that’s exactly my point. On the one hand you want to applaud Alu for her ability to be clear minded, and yet she doesn’t see what we all obviously see in Sunrise: That Wishner is really no different than Feren. As to the rest of her post, let me just leave it at this … no comment!

  11. Another Sunrise Resident says:

    Although I think the proposed development is unnecessary, the “environmentalists” are getting creative with their descriptions of the project. First of all, the levy (not the Sawgrass Expressway) delineates the “everglades” from the urban area. The proposed development is EAST of the levy, west of the expressway. Second, the property’s land use, zoning, and plat was approved in 1988, 1989, and 1993 respectively, to allow office park uses. The amended plat note to add restricted retail and restaurant uses was approved by the Sunrise City Commission (including Ms. Alu) and the Broward County Commission (including the district commissioner, Lois Wexler) in 2008. That being said, the property owner already has property rights for this parcel, and obstructionism at this point is going to cost the city taxpayers a fortune to litigate in a losing cause.

  12. Kwitcherbelyaken says:

    Another Sunrise Resident is so right… Since the early 90’s the Florida Supreme Court upheld property owner rights.

    16 years ago, the Late Dan Pearl stood up at a Commission meeting dealing with the controversy between the demands of the residents of Sunrise Lakes Phase 2 and the property rights of Home Depot.

    Pearl’s comments were “We hear you and let me warn you. If we vote to deny Home Depot, the company will take the city to court and win.”

    The Commission voted with the “demands” of the residents. Home Depot sued and won, costing Sunrise taxpayers tens of thousands in legal costs.

    More than that, the gains made in negotiations with Home Depot went out the window.

    Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    Meanwhile, the likes of Nevins continues to print one sided opinion (I won’t call them stories since they contain facts) blasting officials who don’t measure up to his views. Pay particular attention to his consistent picking on Sofield who has yet to prove himself in either direction.

    Wishner, Rosen and Scuotto will vote as they see fit regardless of how Nevins smears them.

    My advice to Sofield is this; vote with your mind and not Nevins’ opinion and veiled threat to continue picking on you if you don’t vote his way. It’s bad enough when citizens demand that you violate the law, but when media bullies do it, it’s a disgrace.

  13. alert says:

    Buddy you are 100% correcr about soffield,this man was given a two year appointment without accountability to the public,15 people applied for his seat some were qualified but were not even given the time of day.larry soffield was voted on by allthe commissioners except scuotto,MR soffield was scheduled to run but he took the seat of roger wishner who took the mayors appointment,so he was given a plum appointed seat and a 90000$ gift,after the pressure of his frist meeting,he voted himself a pay raise in the second meeting,Buddy with man was civen a gift and so far he is showing signs of aligning with wishner,so for a man that was given a two year appointment with no accountability to the public,I am glad you are holding him accountable for his appointed position,he should be complimented when he does good and critizied when he does wrong,wow what a way of doing things,since the public did not vote for mr soffield I would hope you would be the eyes and ears of the public.
    There were times you were critical of Sheila Alu,in this article you complimented her for her actions.

  14. Resident says:

    Dear Kwitcherbelyaken:

    Roger, is that you? How else would you know such detail of exactly what he said? The only ones that ever seem to remember that far back that kind of details are those share the experience, like fellow elected members.