County cites Arquitectonica principals for chopping down mangroves

Miami-Dade County ordered Bernardo Fort-Brescia and his wife Laurinda Spears to replace the mangrove trees they removed at their home in Coconut Grove

Bernardo Fort-Brescia and his house in Coconut Grove (Credit: Google Maps, Oceana Residences)
Bernardo Fort-Brescia and his house in Coconut Grove (Credit: Google Maps, Oceana Residences)

Miami-Dade County cited architects Bernardo Fort-Brescia and his wife, Laurinda Spears, for illegally removing mangrove trees at their bay-front home in Coconut Grove.

Miami-Dade environmental regulators also ordered Fort-Brescia, founding principal of Arquitectonica, and Spears, a principal of the Miami-based architecture firm, to replace the mangroves they removed from their property after Hurricane Irma hit South Florida on Sept. 10.

JoAnne Clingerman, a code enforcement officer with the Division of Environmental Resources Management, told the Miami Herald it was too soon to say whether the couple will be required to pay a penalty.

Miami-Dade enforces state laws that protect mangrove trees, which provide critical habitat for marine life and mitigate the impact of climate change.

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Howard Nelson, an attorney for Fort-Brescia and Spears, told the Herald the couple disagrees with the county’s enforcement action but won’t appeal it.

Neighbors of Fort-Brescia and Spears in the exclusive Moorings neighborhood of Coconut Grove complained when they saw a crew of workers cutting down mangroves and pulling up stumps on the couple’s property.

The couple claimed that they arranged for the crew to cut down the mangroves because they were damaged by a broken dock and by part of a boat hull during Hurricane Irma. Neighbors say the couple exaggerated the storm damage to the mangroves and complained to county regulators.

Nelson rejected a claim that Fort-Brescia and Spears arranged to cut down the mangroves to improve the view of Biscayne Bay from their home. He told the Herald that their view of the bay is unchanged because the damage caused by the dock and boat “cuts diagonally across the mangroves.” [Miami Herald] — Mike Seemuth