Special master rules against Miami Beach church plan

Miami Beach’s special master ruled the city’s Historical Preservation Board was wrong to approve a controversial plan that would turn a historic church courtyard into a clothing store.

The decision comes after a $500,000 “donation” from developers to the congregation — just one day before its members approved the development deal, according to the Miami New Times.

The controversy dates back to December, when the Miami Beach Community Church considered leasing its century-old courtyard to developer TriStar Capital for a $100 million.

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Following the approval of the plan by the Historical Preservation Board, the preservationists’ last hope was to appeal to a quasi-judicial city official called the special master.

In his decision signed earlier today, Miami Beach special master Warren Bittner ruled that the Historical Preservation Board made a “fundamental error” by not considering the donation during its hearing. [Miami New Times]Christopher Cameron