Broward County commissioners who oppose plans to drill for oil in western marshes believe they have found a way to thwart efforts by a Miami family to tap into Everglades crude: local zoning restrictions.
In a meeting Tuesday, county staff members told commissioners the land is zoned for conservation, which prohibits drilling.
“As long as the decision made is not arbitrary and capricious, it should withstand a legal challenge,” said deputy county attorney Maite Azcoitia.
The county’s authority to govern its land, staff said, trumps a deal struck by state water managers decades ago that allowed the state to use the land for water storage while letting the Kanter family hang on to rights to extract oil, gas and minerals. To drill, the family would have to win permission from the county to change the land use and obtain a lengthy list of permits.
“We have nine hurdles that they have to come through,” Commissioner Barbara Sharief said. “It’s much to do about nothing because it’s not going anywhere.”
Miami-based Kanter Real Estate did not respond to repeated requests for comment Tuesday.
But just in case, county commissioners agreed to ask state legislators to tighten the law governing drilling by including a provision that lets counties oppose drilling in the absence of zoning restrictions.