Lombardi asks contractor to vacate property, Commissioner Dunn apologizes

A Construction worker walks pass the mound of asphalt from Biscayne Blvd construction on Thursday, April 7, 2011.
A Construction worker walks pass the mound of asphalt from Biscayne Blvd construction on Thursday, April 7, 2011. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

An unpermitted construction site that prompted complaints from Wynwood and Overtown neighbors  might be shut down soon.

The news comes a day after an article posted on MiamiHerald.com confirmed that the site was operating illegally.

Property owner David Lombardi has asked American Engineering, the firm that has been using the site as staging area for construction on Biscayne Boulevard,  to vacate the area by Monday if the company cannot obtain the required city permits. 

American Engineering's project manager, David Guerra, said it was unlikely that the company would be able to obtain the permits, and that his crew should be gone by next week. American has a contract worth $16 million with the Florida Department of Transportation to perform the work on Biscayne Boulevard.

Liz Fate, the resident who organized the effort against the site, said she was glad Lombardi was doing "the right thing." She and other residents had been complaining about noise and dust from the site for months. 

She hopes  the city and the community will learn from the episode. 

"I'm glad that things are finally happening, but I hope that all parties involved can come together and find out what happened so it doesn't happen again," she said. "Even if it were legal, this was a very poor use of the land, and the effects on the community were not considered."

In a meeting Thursday night, Commissioner Richard Dunn apologized that his office had been slow to respond to residents' complaints. The construction started in August of 2009, and many residents said they had called code enforcement, the city's Neighborhood Enhancement Team offices, and Dunn's office on numerous occasions over the last year.

Dunn said his staff never notified him about the issue, and that the first he heard about it was when a reporter contacted him this week. He promised to address the problem with his office.

"I will try to set some new criteria and rules." he said. "I’m a little slow, but not this slow. We’re going to have a little prayer meeting tomorrow and get this straight."

This post was produced by Open Media Miami, an independent company that works in partnership with the Miami Herald to cover neighborhood news along the Biscayne Corridor. Follow us on Facebook. Have a story idea? Pitch it to us on OpenMedaimiami.com.