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PEMBROKE PINES, FL-R.J. Pines Corp. is now certain to face additional red tape in an already three-year-old effort to develop a mixed-use commercial-residential project on 125 acres of land just southeast of Interstate 75 and Pines Boulevard, 18 miles north of Miami.

The Broward County attorney’s office filed a petition Aug. 24 with the Florida Department of Administrative Hearings challenging a decision by the South Florida Water Management District to grant the Boca Raton-based corporation a conceptual permit to develop the property.

It is uncertain exactly what type of delay this poses the developer, though the state agency has assigned an administrative law judge. A hearing date is pending.

Filed as a development of regional impact, the R.J. Pines project is subject to intense government review by the county, the regional water district and the South Florida Regional Planning Council.

The company, under contract with property owner Arthur Weiss Trust, is proposing a mixture of industrial, commercial, office, hotel and residential uses on the site.

Earlier this month, the regional water district’s governing board granted R.J. Pines an environmental use permit over the objections of the Broward County Department of Planning and Environmental Protection.

The permit would allow R.J. Pines to complete 75% of required environmental mitigation on a site 45 miles from the Pembroke Pines property–a site that includes freshwater marsh and wet prairie communities which provides foraging ground for herons and other wading birds.

The county argues that the water district failed to apply its own mitigation rules in the decision to grant R.J. Pines the permit.

“Broward County believes the district is compromising its own guidelines by allowing 75 percent of the mitigation to be completed offsite in a mitigation bank,” according to petition the county filed with the state. “In fact, (the) developer has proposed an excellent opportunity for on-site mitigation of 24.4 acres.”

The petition also questions whether the off-site mitigation would provide any greater improvement in ecological value than on-site mitigation.

“In sum, there is no ecological reason why the developer cannot perform all of its required mitigation on site,” according to the petition.

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