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MIAMI-The Miami-Dade County Commission has quashed a bid to dismiss the federal lawsuit it filed earlier this year against the Air Force over its decision to prohibit the development of a commercial airport at the abandoned Homestead Air Force Base.

In rejecting the proposal, it appears the county remains committed to a potentially lengthy legal battle over an Air Force decision earlier this year that declared portions of the 1,800 acres at the abandoned air base as too environmentally sensitive for commercial development.

Instead, the Air Force offered to deed 700 acres to the county but for mixed-use commercial purposes.

Last month, County Commissioner Katy Sorenson suggested the county should dismiss the lawsuit and mount a community-wide lobbying effort to persuade the federal government to convey the property to the county.

The proposal rested on the hope that the Air Force might rescind its administrative ruling, in light of the affect of the Sept. 11 national tragedy on the local economy, and tourism in particular.

Sorenson’s proposal didn’t appear to have much of a chance for passage last week, considering the commission’s Transportation Infrastructure & Environmental Committee issued an unfavorable recommendation on the proposal.

In rejecting Sorenson’s proposal, it also appears the commission is committed to an uphill legal battle. In May, a federal judge ruled against the county’s petition–and another related lawsuit–that sought injunctive relief against the Air Force administrative rule.

U.S. Judge Paul L. Friedman ruled neither the county nor the plaintiffs in a separate case proved either would suffer irreparable harm if the court denied their petitions for injunctions.

In its petition, the county urged Friedman to uphold an Air Force record of decision issued in 1994 that declared 1,800 acres at the air base as suitable for commercial airport development.

Acting on that 1994 decision, the county argued it had invested as much as $9 million over the past several years in advance of redeveloping the site as a commercial airport. The county even selected Homestead Air Base Developers Inc., one of the plaintiffs, as the developer.

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