Sunrise Officials Scrap Over Project At Edge of Everglades


Sunrise officials are considering a land swap with a developer to save environmentally sensitive property next to the Everglades.

The City of Sunrise would give the developers more suitable land to build an office park and hotel.  In return, the city would get the developers’ 21-plus acres wedged between the Sawgrass Expressway and the River of Grass.

There is only one problem:  Where is the money going to come from to consummate the deal?

The land swap was first revealed in on Saturday, May 22.  It was written about in the Sun-Sentinel and The New Times on Monday, May 24.

Environmentalists and City Commissioner Sheila Alu want a deal.  They fear the proposal to build acres of offices and hotel rooms west of the Sawgrass Expressway threatens the River of Grass.

 Here is my original story on the deal.

The development will be discussed Tuesday night at Sunrise City Hall.

  Alu and Michelson Split

The debate over the land has sparked a sudden split between Sunrise City Commissioner Sheila Alu and City Attorney Stuart Michelson.

Alu helped steer the city attorney’s job to Michelson two years ago.  The Miami Herald called it a “no-bid deal. 

The honeymoon is over.

Alu doesn’t like the outside counsel Michelson hired to represent the city on the controversial plan. The firm is Nabors, Giblin & Nickerson.

The Tallahassee-based firm has a one-lawyer office in South Florida staffed by Ed Dion, former county attorney (1999-2004) and former general counsel to Sheriff Ken Jenne (2004-2007).

Today Michelson and the media got an e-mail from Alu:

City Attorney Stuart Michaelson
City Manager Bruce Moeller
This is to advise you that I will be objecting to Nabors & Gibbons representing staff or giving legal advice at the Quasi Judicial Hearing on Tuesday evening regarding Everglades Corporate Park.  The commission did not vote for this firm to give legal advice to staff on land use issues. If you move forward with this hearing without commission approval to hire this firm in advance of this hearing, I will challenge any action obtained at this hearing.
The commission has not given approval for the hiring of this firm. Please govern yourself accordingly.
Commissioner Sheila Alu

 Michelson fired back:

 The City Commission did hire the Nabors and Giblin  firm for the purpose of performing land use work for the City. The vote was 4 to 1.  You voted with the majority.  At the time, you inquired of me whether you could discuss Everglades Corporate Park with an attorney from Nabors and Giblin,  and I responded that of course you could do so.  I will provide you with the minutes of the meeting whereat Nabors and Giblin was retained by the City Commission on Monday.
Mr. Nabors has been practicing law for over 40 years and he is widely regarded in the profession as the dean of land use.
My job is to provide the City with the best legal advice possible so as to keep the Commission and the City out of trouble.  I endeavor to do that, and in the pursuit of that endeavor I recommended the Nabors and Giblin firm.
Stuart Michelson


I’m sure that the veteran Michelson rather not have Alu breathing down his neck.  But she is one of his five bosses, so he has to be careful what he says. 

When asked about the e-mail exchange, he carefully chose his words:

“Being friends with Sheila is a lot different than working for Sheila.  Sometimes issues come up that she is passionate about.  She’s a passionate person.


If these disagreement between Michelson and Alu continue, they could have future repercussions for Sunrise. 

Although she is only one vote on the five-member commission, she is a master of media manipulation (witness this post!).  She could turn Michelson’s job into a nightmare of Internet and newspaper criticism. 

Michelson just may rue the day when he got that no-bid job.


My pal Susannah Bryan at the Sun-Sentinel has a story Monday on the project.  It is here.

5 Responses to “Sunrise Officials Scrap Over Project At Edge of Everglades”

  1. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    >> She could turn Michelson’s job into a nightmare of Internet and newspaper criticism.

    Hey Sheila… If you need any help with the above, I’d be willing to give you lessons for free.

    I know a little something about making nightmares via the Internet.

  2. Build another useless park says:

    Read my lips. This is just another case of saying/voting for something and waffling out later. Pure politics and grandstanding on polarizing issues. Nice votes Sheila. I wonder who else will try to ride this wave Tuesday night?

  3. Money Always Wins? says:

    4 parcels side by side owned by related groups:

    APM LLC :
    200 S 5 ST STE 200N LOUISVILLE KY 40202

    EHES LLC :
    200 S 5 ST STE 200N LOUISVILLE KY 40202

    Sawgrass Investors :
    200 S 5 ST STE 200N LOUISVILLE KY 40202

    Sawgrass Investors:
    200 S 5 ST STE 200N LOUISVILLE KY 40202

    Then, when you check Wishner’s and Sofield’s contributions : Kentucky companies with same addresses, and with ties to south florida developers and then loads of developers/contractors/engineers/engineer PACs/lobbyists/lobbying firms and out of area people. Not many residents of Sunrise contributing. But, how can they compete with the power of the corporate money and the steamroller of development. Money always wins.

  4. Goldbricker says:

    Not to mention Mr. Lieberman’s crappy legal advice:

  5. Really? says:

    Nabors, Giblin & Nickerson was hired to replace the previous UTILITY attorney. Any pretense otherwise is disingenuous.