Collision Course

On one side are politicians and influential business interests. On the other are environmentalists and some very wealthy private citizens. In the middle is Homestead Air Force Base. Dead ahead: An explosive confrontation.

The other major shareholders of HABDI are Carlos Herrera, former president of the Latin Builders Association (30 percent); Miami developer Pedro Adrian (18 percent); and American Logistics Services (16 percent). Others owning from one to three percent of the company include Manuel Romero, Jr., owner of Romero Lumber in South Miami-Dade; Augustine Ajagbe, a Nigerian-born security-firm owner; Armando Guerra, a principal in the Sedano's supermarket chain; and Augustin Herran, a real estate management executive. Even HABDI attorney Ramon Rasco is now a partner, owning about one percent of the company's stock, which he has taken in lieu of legal fees.

The inclusion of the Mas family in the deal has placed Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas in an awkward position, since the county continues to press its claims against Mas-owned Church & Tower regarding alleged overbilling on a county paving contract. In essence Penelas is arguing that one Mas-owned company cheated the county out of millions of dollars, but another Mas-owned company should be entrusted with a piece of property that could be critical to the county's future.

But even if Penelas wanted to back out of the county's agreement with HABDI, he would find it virtually impossible. The provisions of Miami-Dade's contract with the company are so restrictive, and the penalties for breaching it so severe, that it would likely cost the county tens of millions of dollars to remove HABDI.

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