23, 2003 - Broward County should not have to reimburse developer R.
Donahue Peebles for about $4 million in expenses tied to the ill-fated
deal to build a minority-owned convention hotel in Fort Lauderdale, a
Broward Circuit judge ruled Thursday.
The decision by Broward
Circuit Judge Ilona M. Holmes is the latest entry in a five-year ledger
of animosity between the black developer and Broward County. The county
currently has no plans to build a luxury hotel near the convention
The deal with Peebles finally fell apart in July 2001
after Peebles' partner, Wyndham International, backed out. When the
county refused to pay Peebles several million dollars in development
expenses, he took the dispute to court.
"The effect of the
ruling is that the county has no obligation to pay for any of the
development expenses of the hotel project," Deputy County Attorney Noel
Peebles and his attorney contended that the
county, during a December 2000, commission meeting, agreed to reimburse
Peebles if the deal fell through. They said that the county's written
minutes, a letter signed by Deputy County Attorney Pfeffer, and other
correspondence confirm the commission's decision to reimburse him.
a public policy perspective, the judge is saying that when members of
the public want to understand what the County Commission has done, they
can't rely on the written minutes," Peebles said.
the county argued that no motion was made, voted on or passed that
would have obligated Broward County to pay Peebles. They also argued
that Pfeffer's letter and other correspondence are irrelevant because
they are not binding on the commission.
Both The Herald and The
Sun-Sentinel reported on Dec. 6, 2000, that the County Commission had
agreed to reimburse Peebles for whatever funds he had spent on the
project up to that that point.
The relationship between Peebles
and the County Commission became contentious early in the negotiating
process; each accused the other of breaking promises and missing
Peebles said he and his lawyers will file an appeal after they receive Judge Holmes' written order.
see more of The Miami Herald -- including its homes, jobs, cars and
other classified listings -- or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to
(c) 2003, The Miami Herald. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. WBR,