Miami Herald: Lawsuit over historic designation by temple vs. city thrown out (05/23/2012)

Article written by Lidia Dinkova

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Temple B’Nai Zion against Sunny Isles Beach and Mayor Norman Edelcup.

Temple B’Nai Zion, 200 178th St., filed the lawsuit in December 2010.

At issue: In 2010, the Sunny Isles Beach City Commission voted to designate parts of the temple as a historic site — something temple representatives like Rabbi Aaron Lankry did not want. Lankry had plans to have the current temple demolished and a new facility built that would better accommodate the growing Sephardic Orthodox Jewish congregation. But the temple’s historic designation halted all renovation plans. Daniel Wallach, a partner at the Fort Lauderdale firm Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., —which represents the temple — said the city’s historic-designation law restricts the freedom to develop the temple building.

Zanita Fenton, a University of Miami School of Law professor who teaches constitutional law, agreed with Wallach.

“The point of historic designations is to preserve historic sections for the community. Once it is designated, then it falls within the need to preserve it,” said Fenton. ”You don’t want to demolish it because that would be completely counter to a historic designation.”

The lawsuit called for the court to throw out the historic designation and declare part of the Historic Landmark city ordinance unconstitutionally vague — on its face and as applied to the temple.

Sunny Isles Beach filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit — and got what it wanted.

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