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Donald Trump visits Doral resort, says he’s allaying neighbors’ concerns

A few weeks ago, residents of the Fairway Homes of Doral found themselves at odds with the country’s best-known celebrity developer — Donald Trump.

They had complained to city officials about the loud, early-morning noise caused by the resort’s maintenance crews at the Trump-owned Doral Golf Resort & Spa and about trees planted by the resort that blocked their golf course views. Now, things have changed.

Trump himself spoke to residents earlier this month. Thursday, he returned to Doral and, in an interview with The Miami Herald, said their concerns were being addressed.

First, the noise.

To remedy that problem, the resort changed the path that its maintenance vehicles take in the morning, moving them away from the homes, and replaced eight of its 32 vehicles with quieter, electric ones.

“The noise problem is better than it ever was because they used to use heavy equipment, and it was noisy,” Trump said in the interview at the resort. “It was a combination of moving it away from the houses and also getting the electric cars.”

Trump said some neighbors called and thanked the resort for reducing the racket.

“The noise has pretty much disappeared,” said Hugo Ledezma, president of the Fairway Homes of Doral Estates Homeowners Association. “There have been some hiccups, but everything has changed 99.9 percent. We are very thankful. It’s made a huge change.”

At a special City Council meeting in January, city officials, residents and resort representatives discussed the ongoing problems. While the resort — after Trump’s organization purchased it out of bankruptcy early in 2012 — kept the same maintenance schedule as the previous owners, Trump had doubled the staff’s size and the maintenance fleet, whose heavy-duty utility vehicles would rumble down paths near the residents’ back yards.

City Manager Joe Carollo and Mayor Luigi Boria also spoke to the Trumps after the meeting.

“Luigi was very instrumental in coming up with the recommendation, and it was a great one,” said Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, about his suggestion for the electric vehicles.

The next issue the Trumps are tackling with homeowners is the planting of areca palm trees around the red and gold golf courses, erecting a visual barrier between the homes and fairways.

In a previous interview, Trump said the trees were necessary to protect the homeowners from golf balls hit in their direction and to muffle the sound of the maintenance work.

He said he received positive feedback about them from some residents, but others complained that the trees blocked their views, attracted rodents and caused flooding.

The Trumps talked about the issue with residents, and Ledezma said he was optimistic about the way things are going.

“We have also met with Mr. Trump and Ivanka, and are hopeful that the ideas we have presented will meet their requirements to bring the resort to the standards they are envisioning,” Ledezma wrote in an email.

Ivanka Trump is scheduled to meet with the homeowners again in March.

“We have really made a proactive effort to get with residents,” she said, adding that it is important to her to share with the community the Trumps’ plans to improve the resort and “embrace the community in a way the previous owners didn’t.”

In January the city requested an emergency injunction against the resort, alleging that it “continuously operated commercial noise-producing lawn mowers, blowers, chainsaws, power tools and other noise-producing tools . . . between the hours of 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. on weekdays, and 6:30 p.m. to 9 a.m. on Saturdays and any time on Sundays.”

And in November, a special magistrate ruled that the resort committed 19 violations against the city’s noise ordinance and fined it $28,500. In addition, the magistrate ordered the resort to pay $1,500 for any future violations.

The City Council last month voted unanimously to place a 30-day hold on its emergency complaint and the magistrate’s order, to let the city and Trump negotiate.

“The Motion was filed on Feb. 8, but I have not gotten notice that it was granted by the court,” Joe Jimenez, an attorney for Doral, wrote in an email. “For now, the case is on hold. I am not aware of any further complaints . . .”

The Trumps said creating a sense of community and working with residents is important to them.

“We’ve had a great relationship, and we think they are terrific people,” Trump said of the residents.