Upset over escalating traffic congestion, Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi is proposing a building moratorium that is aimed at slowing down Florida’s biggest home builder from starting construction on a mega project on the town’s last major parcel of land.
“My goal is not to stop the development but to make sure it’s a smart development,” Pizzi told the Miami Herald on Tuesday.
Pizzi, reaching the end of his second term as mayor, has requested a discussion of the controversial plan at Tuesday night’s council meeting, with an eye toward the town manager coming up with a six-month moratorium that would require future approval. Pizzi wants the builder, Lennar Corp., to work with town officials and residents to address the expected crushing impact of its massive residential and commercial development on roadway, water and sewer systems.
Lennar, which paid $74 million to the Dunn family for the 142-acre property in the northwest section of Miami Lakes, is threatening to sue the town if its leaders hold up building permits for the mixed-use project. Lennar’s Dunnwoody Lake project, to be built on a former cow pasture, is only awaiting building perrmits, according to the Miami-based company’s law firm, Holland & Knight.
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“Since we believe that this would not only be bad public policy, but have serious legal implications for the town, we wanted to formally express our concerns prior to the meeting,” attorney Juan J. Mayol Jr. wrote to town manager Alex Rey on Monday.
Pizzi, who is an attorney, said his moratorium plan would not affect home renovation and other construction projects that are already under way — only “new projects that could exacerbate and worsen our traffic problems,” according to his proposal. But the plan would hit Lennar’s project, bound by Northwest 87th Avenue and 154th and 162nd streets, in the bull’s-eye.
“Lennar has to understand, their project is going to go forward,” he said. “But they have to respect the rights of Miami Lakes residents who are concerned about traffic gridlock and other quality of life issues.”