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Annexation proposal pits Miami-Dade commissioner against Sweetwater mayor

It’s Miami-Dade Commissioner Javier Souto versus Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño in the latest public squabble over a proposed city expansion.

Maroño and his city commission have asked the county to annex Florida International University’s engineering campus and portions of two major roads to Sweetwater. Those roads — West Flagler Street and Southwest Eighth Street — and FIU’s College of Engineering and Computing are in Souto’s unincorporated Miami-Dade district.

Souto, who has decried the proposal from the dais and on Spanish-language radio, has likened the move to an invasion.

“Georgia doesn’t get into Florida. Florida doesn’t get into Georgia,” he said in an interview. “We have to respect boundaries.”

Above all, Souto said he is upset that he was not informed about Sweetwater’s proposal from its inception, learning of it from a newspaper article instead. He has since filed county legislation that would essentially give commissioners veto power over annexations involving their districts.

Maroño, whose city lies outside of Souto’s district, said he is baffled by the commissioner’s reaction.

“I haven’t been able to speak to him because he won’t talk to me,” he said. “I wish that I knew what his problem was.”