BRADENTON, Fla. - A second Florida county has asked for a court review in an attempt to invalidate $1.75 billion of private activity bonds for the All Aboard Florida passenger train project.
Martin County filed a petition for writ of certiorari Sept. 3 asking an Orange County Circuit Court in central Florida to overturn the approval of bond documents authorizing the sale of the debt.
The board of the Florida Development Finance Corp. as conduit issuer approved the necessary documents for the PAB issuance on Aug. 5. The FDFC is located in Orange County.
All Aboard Florida had said in court documents that the bonds were being marketed in a private placement to qualified investors during the first week of September.
Martin County's petition names FDFC and All Aboard Florida.
"We believe Martin County citizens have a strong case because due process rights of the county and its citizens have been violated," county attorney Michael Durham said in a release Sept 14. "Martin County has demonstrated the AAF project will have many adverse impacts that the FDFC could have addressed and mitigated within their approval process."
In the 33-page request for a writ, or court review, of the FDFC's Aug. 5 proceedings, Martin County argues that it has standing to bring the legal action for various reasons, including that the passenger trains All Aboard Florida plans to operate will cause numerous negative impacts to the county as it passes through on its 235-mile route between Miami and Orlando.
The document also contends that there were missteps by FDFC board members before and during the Aug. 5 meeting that tainted the bond approval process.
On Aug. 28, Indian River County filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking a judge to void the bond resolution. The petition was filed in Leon County Circuit Court in Tallahassee, the state capital.
Martin County also filed a request with the FDFC on Aug. 26 seeking a formal administrative hearing to challenge the corporation's decision to issue the bonds. FDFC has denied the request saying that the agency does not participate in the state administrative appeal process.
In court documents contending that Martin and Indian River do not have standing to bring legal challenges, AAF has said that it plans to use funds other than bond proceeds to make necessary improvements. The train will not stop in either county.
FDFC officials have said that the legal challenges were not expected to affect the board decision authorizing the bonds or to prevent the bonds from being issued.