The former president of the Key Largo Federation of Homeowners will take over a seat on the Monroe County Planning Commission at the panel's next meeting, scheduled for Jan. 30.
Ron Miller of Key Largo is infamous for chaining himself to the Jewfish Creek Bridge in protest to the start of a $180 million project. On July 4, 2005, Miller wrapped a chain around a railing, fastened the padlock and pitched the key into the water below.
Cut free after about 35 minutes on the bridge, Miller was escorted to a nearby sheriff's cruiser and given a citation to appear in court on one count of obstruction of the highway, a misdemeanor.
Miller wanted the bridge to be more pedestrian-friendly.
Miller was asked to take the seat about three months ago by County Commissioner Sylvia Murphy. He takes over for Upper Keys contractor Randy Wall, whom Murphy asked to step down.
Former County Commissioner Murray Nelson had appointed Wall to the board.
"I think [Wall's] going to do some traveling," she said. "Sometimes having to be back once a month can get in the way."
Murphy said Wall did an excellent job.
"I haven't told him yet, but I may appoint him back to the job one day if I am still a commissioner," she said.
Attempts to reach Wall were unsuccessful.
Murphy and Miller are no strangers to each other. Though Miller wasn't overly eager to take the job, Murphy said she is pleased he was willing to it.
"Ron is the most knowledgeable," she said. "Fortunately he was able to do it."
Miller acted a bit nonchalant about his new position as a public official.
"When she offered it to me, I was a bit surprised. I've had more latitude speaking as a member of the public," Miller said. "The difference is you get to vote."
Other members on the commission include Denise Werling (District 1), Jeb Hale (2), Elizabeth Lustberg (3) and William Wyatt (4).
Miller says he will bring an open mind to the table on future development projects.
"I'm not anti-development," Miller said. "I am pro-smart growth."
He said his extensive European travels have given him ideas about what he wants the Upper Keys to look like.
"Tourists need a safe way to walk to restaurants," he said. "This is the type I look for as a tourist."
The most public action the Planning Commission has taken as of late was upholding a decision of Planning Director Townsley Schwab in August to deny a Tampa-based real estate company's application to lease a Tavernier building to federal immigration authorities. During the Aug. 31 appeal, Miller and many other Upper Keys residents spoke in favor of Schwab.
Miller served in the Miami-Dade Fire Department for 28 years and also owned a plant nursery in the Redlands before it was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
"We worked together on political projects for a long time," Murphy said. "He was my go to guy."