The Real Deal Miami

Miami’s Catholic archdiocese sues city, claiming zoning code drastically depresses property values

April 22, 2013 12:00PM

Archbishop Thomas Wenski

Catholic Archbishop Thomas Wenski and the Miami archdiocese have sued the city of Miami for $89 million, claiming a zoning code has devalued church property, The Miami Herald reported.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this month in Miami-Dade circuit court, asks a judge to annul sections of the 2009 code that bar construction of buildings taller than two stories, which, according to Wenski and the archdiocese, limit the values of four Coconut Grove properties, including LaSalle High School and the Shrine to our Lady of Charity.

The suit was filed under the Bert J. Harris Act, a state law that allows property owners to claim compensation when government decisions substantially reduce property values.

No Harris act claim has ever been won in court, the Herald reported, citing experts.

City officials told the newspaper that the suit has no merit.

The archdiocese of Miami first filed a Harris claim with the city three years ago, claiming the code deprived it of $139 million in property value.

“It could affect whatever future ministries we need to put in those areas, limit us to height, possibly location on the property, and really interfere with our mission,’’ archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta told the Herald. [The Miami Herald]Emily Schmall