Privé developers get legal OK to build sidewalk amid homeowner protests

Homeowners blocked construction by “sitting in the mud, parking cars and laying on top of them”

Feb.February 27, 2015 11:15 AM

Homeowner Dara Clarke sitting down to block construction on Thursday, and a sidewalk that was installed last year

A Florida appellate court ruled in favor of developers of Privé at Island Estates in Aventura on Wednesday, paving the way for them to build a sidewalk on the remaining homeowners’ lots.

The ruling by the Third District Court of Appeal vacates the temporary restraining order against the developers, which blocked them from building a sidewalk on three properties. Homeowners David Clarke, Dara Clarke, Dan Kleinman, Sheila Kleinman and Alan Reyf filed the restraining order in September.

Some of the homeowners reacted vehemently against the ruling.

Lebensohn told The Real Deal that on Thursday, homeowners blocked workers from installing the sidewalks on the three remaining properties by “sitting in the mud, parking cars and laying on top of them.”

PriceWaterhouseCoopers principal David Clarke and attorney Dara Clarke were arrested after ramming the newly poured sidewalk with their Porsche, developer Dan Lebensohn said.

“We are building our sidewalk,” Lebensohn told TRD. “It’s in progress.”

Rendering of Prive at Island Estates

Developers had filed separate lawsuits — one for $200 million against the city of Aventura and one for $225 million against individual property owners — earlier this year to “enforce development rights and ensure construction begins on time.”

Last year, the Aventura City Commission passed a resolution to have developer Gary Cohen build a second sidewalk on the south part of the island if the neighborhood was developed into residential units other than single family homes. After Cohen installed the sidewalk last summer in front of 12 homes, the remaining three homeowners filed suit to stop construction in front of their homes, claiming the sidewalk would invite trespassers onto their property. A court order temporarily paused the installation and since then, the city has not issued building permits.

“The Privé developers are racing to build an illegal sidewalk on private property before the courts have another opportunity to stop them,” Susan Raffanello, attorney for the homeowners on Island Estates, said in a statement. “Importantly, the District Court of Appeals did not rule on whether Privé is trespassing; it just remanded the case so that Privé has an opportunity to argue why stopping its ongoing trespass causes it damage. Citizens of Aventura will be watching closely to see if the city actually issues a building permit to a developer who is so blatantly trampling on the private property rights of his neighbors. This case is far from over. A private developer cannot simply steal property from others. That is a fundamental principal of American property rights.”

The site of Privé at Island Estates, a 160-unit, 16-story, twin tower condo development, is at 5000 Island Estates Drive in Aventura.

This is an ongoing story. Check back for updates.

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