On Monday this reporter posted “Is Aries Development Coconut Grove’s Biggest Scofflaw?”
However, before I even started writing that story I called the Coconut Grove NET office, right at the stroke of 9AM, to make a formal complaint.
I spoke with a woman named Faye and made it very clear that I was not only calling to register a complaint, but I was also calling as a journalist. I gave her a rundown of the history of the Bicycle Shop being an unsecured construction site last year. I also told her that, although the gate was finally locked, no one ever responded to my phone calls; I left several messages pleading for a callback because the gate was still unlocked a week later. That’s why I made it clear to Faye that I would really like a response this year. I know she took down everything I told her because several times she asked me to slow down so she could catch up.
After hanging up I started writing “Is Aries Development Coconut Grove’s Biggest Scofflaw?” I was hoping to include a response from either the NET office or Code Compliance in my story. However, many hours later, after I had finished the post and still not heard back, I hit the PUBLISH button.
TO BE HONEST: I really had no expectation someone would phone me. I’m still waiting for that call like I’m still waiting for those phone calls from last year.
Later in the day one of my inside governmental sources suggested I email Eli Gutierrez, the City of Miami Code Compliance Director. I sent a Mr. Gutierrez an email with the link to my story and got an IMMEDIATE reply. More accurately, I got a CC:, as Gutierrez emailed one of his code compliance underlings:
Please an [sic] officer to this site first thing in the morning. Let us
know inspection results. Make this a priority. Include the Building
department if you need to.
Damn! I should have gone straight to Gutierrez last year. However, if I recall correctly, his was one of the phone numbers at which I left messages.
No matter, because by Tuesday afternoon the site had been inspected and cited for 3 deficiencies, including my original complaint of an unsecured work site. The other 2 fall into the vacant, abandoned, and blighted rubrics. The pictures that accompany this post were taken by the City of Miami Code Compliance and were sent to me as a result of the inspection.
According to Gutierrez the owner was cited for these infractions and fined $1,000. There is a 10-day window in which the owner, Aries Development [which owns the company that owns the Bicycle Shop], can file an appeal. However, they still need to fix the deficiencies ASAP. The only deficiency that the owner has a chance of correcting within that 10-day window is locking the gate.
However, remember the Aftermath of the Great Miami Tree Massacre? In short: The same developer, as the controller of a 50-year lease on the E.W.F. Stirrup House, was cited for cutting down 4 old trees on that property, contrary to Miami By-Laws. Before any trees can be cut in this city, a landscaping plan must be submitted to the city and a permit obtained before any chopping. The owners were fined $4,000, or $1,000 per tree.
IRONY ALERT: The owner of record was not the party that cut down the trees. Aries Development, which has a 50-year lease on the Stirrup House, were the real culprits.
And here’s where it gets really sticky: A landscaping plan was filed after the fact and approved. Consequently all the fines were expunged. It’s as if the deveoper did nothing wrong whatsoever.
This developer just does what it wants and always seems to escape any real consequences. As the recently retired Miami muckraker Al Crespo might say, “It’s Miami, bitches.”