With Indian tribal land sovereignty solely a federal and state legal concern, any effective protest of the Miccosukee’s control of Miccosukee Golf and Country Club in Kendale Lakes will likely require a separate court action by affected residents.
That was the advice of U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia during a special meeting hosted by the Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations (KFHA) on May 2. The meeting was attended by some 50 residents and KFHA members.
“I will absolutely oppose any move to build a casino on that property,” pledged the freshman House District 26 representative who said he and his staff “have been repeatedly assured by Miccosukee representatives they only want to continue operating a golf course there.”
Peppered for over an hour with questions, Garcia said he would not venture to guess the outcome of the county’s pending appeal of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs decision of July 27, 2012 placing the approximate 230-acre tract under legal jurisdiction of the tribe.
“My inquiries have shown that the current county appeal of tribal rights must be determined by review of existing state and federal laws,” he said. “That being the case, the pleading by the county will likely take three to four years before any decision is rendered.”
The county’s 43-page document begins with raising the right of the Miccosukee Tribe to be legally recognized under federal jurisdiction in 1934, then recaps the issues it claims prove failure to establish proper criteria for a need to expand tribal land, as well as the Bureau’s failure to consider jurisdictional problems (policing, zoning, etc.) raised by the tribal land designation.
“Settling all of those issues will involve federal and state law,” Garcia said. “As I see it now, the only viable recourse of residents, barring an overturn of the county appeal, would be initiation of a legal action in a federal or state court.”
Even that, he added, may be difficult because litigation “must have cause, some physical change by the tribe that alters the land, resulting in an infringement of property covenants to become a viable legal issue. And that would have had to have taken place after before a legal action was filed.”
In support of Kendale Lakes resident’s petitions that accompanied the county appeal, KFHA passed its own resolution, noting that a 99-year zoning restriction was placed on ownership deeds granted in 1972, requiring the tribal property to remain a golf course, noting any change would require approval of 75 percent of its neighbors and a majority vote of the Miami-Dade County Commission.
Those covenants represent one of the strongest reasons for protests by Kendale Lakes residents whose property adjoins the golf course, Garcia said, adding that such legal action, however, would necessarily take place only after an infringement of property rights had been undertaken.