Richard J. Heisenbottle, one of the main promoters of the boat warehouse plans for Matheson Hammock Park, has resigned as chairman of the Coral Gables Historic Preservation Board.
According to the Miami New Times, Heisenbottle teamed up with Marc Buoniconti and lobbyist Dusty Melton to promote the five-story, 62,000-square-foot structure. And in order for construction to being, the plans would have to be approved by a series of committees, including the HPB.
In September, the Coral Gables Gazette publicly questioned whether it was ethical for an HPB chair to lobby for something in which he has financial interest. They also claimed he was lobbying without a permit and without disclosing that he was HPB chair.
In his January 19 resignation letter to Coral Gables City Manger Patrick Salereno, Heisenbottle holds that the push against him was politically motivated and that he was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics (COE).
But COE Advocate Michael P. Murawski told the Coral Gables Gazette: "It would not be an accurate statement to say that Mr. Heisenbottle was 'exonerated' by the COE. Mr. Heisenbottle was notified that he was not in compliance with lobby registration requirement and then he brought himself into compliance."
Coral Gables residents passionately opposed to the boat warehouse started an online campaign and petition called Save Our Matheson Hammock Park.
In their video (below), they convey concerns about how the massive structure would impact noise pollution, traffic, and the pristine ecosystem of the park. They also question how the development plans were being sneaked through the approval process.
Heisenbottle's resignation in addition to the Gables by the Sea association's unanimous vote to oppose the project means one of Miami's last wild habitats just may have a fighting chance against development sprawl.
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