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They Won The Vote, Now Advocates For Cruise Limits In Key West Want To Stay Part Of The Legal Fight

Nancy Klingener

On Election Day, Key West voters approved three measures that would severely limit the cruise industry on the island. That issue was already in court — and now the people who pushed for the new limits want to stay part of the legal battle.

Pier B is on Key West Harbor in front of the Margaritaville Resort and it gets most of the island's cruise business. The pier's owner is still opposed to the new amendments to the city charter, which were approved by voters Nov. 3.

Voters said yes to limiting the number of people who could disembark to 1,500 a day, the capacity of ships that call at Key West to 1,300 people and said the city must prioritize ships by those with the best environmental and health safety records.

In August, Pier B's owners sued the city, Monroe County Elections Supervisor Joyce Griffin and the Key West Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships. The committee led the drive for the limits, organizing the petition drive that put the amendments on the ballot and advocating for their approval.

Now Pier B has dropped the elections supervisor and the Safer, Cleaner Ships committee from its lawsuit, leaving the city as the sole defendant. In an email, Safer, Cleaner Ships' directors say they're worried the city won't adequately defend the charter amendments.

The committee wants the city's support as an intervenor in the lawsuit, and to have a joint defense agreement.

"There has been no discovery filing, and no expert witnesses have been named. Not a shred of legal research is evident in the City's filings to date," the committee directors wrote.

Key West City Attorney Shawn Smith did not return a call for comment Monday afternoon.

The Pier B Development Corporation also filed a motion asking for more time, before a trial on the lawsuit, so it could amend its complaint, now that the limits have been approved by voters.
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Nancy Klingener covers the Florida Keys for WLRN. Since moving to South Florida in 1989, she has worked for the Miami Herald, Solares Hill newspaper and the Monroe County Public Library.
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