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Miami Beach Convention Center Referendum Canceled After Court Decision

MARSHA HALPER / Miami Herald Staff

An appeals court on Friday left Miami Beach to cancel a planned referendum on a $1 billion renovation of the city’s convention center, ruling commissioners must first approve a lease that voters could then consider.

The ruling comes a day before Miami Beach plans to print its ballot for the November 5 election, and the city’s attorney said there will be no time to appeal the decision by the Third District Court of Appeal.

Jose Smith, the attorney, said the lease negotiations with a development team South Beach ACE will probably last through the spring.

Miami Beach commissioners would then need to approve the lease before it could be sent to voters. He said the convention-center question would be removed from the ballot.

The decision is a major victory for opponents of the project, led by Commissioner Jonah Wolfson.

Wolfson serves as chairman of the political action committee, Let Miami Beach Decide, was involved in the lawsuit that resulted in Friday’s decision. The court overturned an earlier decision allowing the convention-center question to remain on the ballot.