Monroe County officials last week denied a Tampa-based builder's request to construct a U.S. Department of Homeland Security building in Tavernier.
The project was controversial from the time it became known last year. It was met with large community opposition from neighbors who did not want a federal facility with a possible prisoner holding cell to be built in the historic Upper Keys district.
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hero. Gary Johnson,
If approved, the 10,316-square-foot building would have housed agents with Homeland Security's Investigative Division and U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Marine Unit.
Townsley Schwab, senior director of planning and environmental resources for the county, wrote William Wagner, president of Trimar Construction, the builder of the proposed project, that the building plans do not conform with the property's suburban commercial zoning.
The property, at oceanside mile marker 91.6, is home to the former Florida Keys Electric Cooperative building. Schwab said in his April 24 letter the zoning requires that any government facility built on the property must be a "public building" that serves residents of the immediate area.
"Based on the plans submitted, the proposed facility does not fulfill this purpose, as the proposed facility is not intended to serve the needs of the immediate planning area of Lower Key Largo (Tavernier)," Schwab wrote.