More than 250 angry residents flooded Doral City Hall Wednesday night to complain about billionaire Donald Trump’s decision to block their golf views with a wall of leafy trees.
The new areca palms have been stumping more than 2,500 homeowners since the beginning of Trump’s beautification project early last year. Former views of green, curvy hills or glassy waters are now blocked by trees that grow dozens of feet high.
However the council failed to reach a resolution indefinitely postponed the topic.
Council members gave City Attorney Dan Espino the “marching orders” of returning with a legal opinion on the subject.
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The meeting went on past midnight, with residents overflowing into hallways and a second room with TV monitors that streamed the discussion. Dozens of residents registered to address the council; each was given three minutes of talk time.
Some residents had speeches prepared, while others winged it. Some residents pumped their fists in the air while they talked, while others battled tears.
Many residents gave their time to Morgan Levy, a 90-year-old resident of Doral Park who’s known as one of the city’s pioneers.
Levy has been fighting the planting of areca palms near his property line that obscure his view of the Silver Course after Donald Trump installed a fence of bushy trees along the perimeter of the courses, adjoining residents’ homes.
He said he paid a $10,000 premium for his home, specifically for the picturesque scene from his yard, he said.
“These walls of trees will result in serious loss to our property values our quality of life, our access to the breezes that cool our homes,” Levy said. “Will all Doral concerned citizens please stand up.”
Hundreds stood up.
“Donald Trump, take down these walls of trees!” Levy yelled. The residents repeated after him. “Thank you. Please sit down.”
Levy called on Trump to have a face-to face meeting with residents, and not his representative Ed Russo, the person Trump assigned to interact with residents.
He also called on the council to pass a retroactive ordinance that will limit fences or landscaping as buffers between dissimilar land uses to no higher than six feet.
Some residents said they have legal rights to the golf views based on agreements between the golf courses’ previous owner and the developer of nearby homes. In some cases, such rights can “run with the land,” meaning they are passed on to future buyers.
“If an emergency meeting to authorize funding by the city of Doral for the Miss Universe Contest was deemed necessary by the Doral City Council, then I submit that an emergency meeting or meetings to resolve the wall of trees issue with Donald Trump deserves the same urgency,” Levy said.
Donald Trump told the Miami Herald Thursday that he “would certainly not mind meeting” with the residents. “However without the beautification and safety purpose of those trees, it would not be worthy of either the Trump or the Doral name. I will probably abandon it. Disassociate myself with it.”
Vice Mayor Christi Fraga last month cast the lone “no” vote against contributing $2.5 million to the pageant. At Thursday’s meeting she called on her colleagues to rescind their vote.
The chambers got so loud that residents were told not to clap, but to applaud silently by waving their hands in the air.
City officials say all they can do is try to mediate between residents and Trump.
Mayor Luigi Boria told residents that his golf view also has been obstructed and that he stands with the residents.
“I will stand by you and do whatever I have to do to come to an agreement” Boria said. The other council members agreed.
Doral Park is a master community made up of 13 sub-communities. It was one of the first residential developments in the city. It was developed by Lennar Corp., which promised residents in Doral Park a view.
The residents say KSL Silver Properties promised that it would not block the views when KSL acquired the golf course site from Lennar.
“The golf course and the lakes shall not be reconfigured in a manner which eliminates or materially diminishes the view of homes or units located adjacent to lakes or the golf course,” says the agreement, which also says it is intended to run with the land, regardless of changes in ownership.
But Trump’s attorneys have studied the documents and concluded that the promise isn’t binding. They say KSL sold the property to another company, which later filed for bankruptcy. Trump bought the property out of bankruptcy for $150 million in 2012, a process that extinguished KSL’s promises, Trump said.
Adriana Nodal, longtime Doral resident, did not leave satisfied.
“The way in which the city has given the Trump Organization a free pass,” she said. “It seems as if our elected officials are only interested in keeping one neighbor happy — Donald Trump — and forgetting about the thousands of regular residents, who have been living here in Doral for many years.”
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