Northwest Dade property owner seeking to fill lake gets denied — again

Lakefront residents say filling the lake would impact their quality of life

Dec.December 09, 2019 11:30 AM
Lake that Lake Sana Developments wants to partially fill

Lake that Lake Sana Developments wants to partially fill

A property owner on a quest to partially fill an 85-acre lake in unincorporated northwest Miami-Dade for future development suffered another setback recently.

Last month, a panel of three Miami-Dade Circuit Court judges denied Lake Sana Developments’ petition to overturn a vote by the county’s Community Council 8. The council’s vote denied the Hollywood-based company’s permit to fill 29.5 submerged acres near Northwest 103rd Street and Northwest 13th Avenue.

According to a five-page order, the judge’s panel didn’t buy Lake Sana’s arguments that the community council’s decision was not “supported by competent substantial evidence.” “We find that it did, and deny the petition for writ of certiorari,” the order states. “Lake Sana makes no independent argument that the [community council] failed to observe the essential requirements of the law or that it denied the petitioner due process.”

Representatives for Lake Sana, led by Evan Kagan, did not return phone calls, but a source familiar with the owner’s plan told The Real Deal the company is going to petition the Third District Court of Appeals. The source said many large developers have provided Lake Sana with letters of intent to partner and develop the northwest Miami-Dade property into a multifamily project. According to Miami-Dade property records, Lake Sana paid $750,000 for the land in June of last year.

In its petition, Lake Sana said that whatever future plans it has for the site should not have factored into the community council’s decision to deny the fill permit. “The council heeded the outcry of those who did not want the lake even partially filled, based on speculative fears as to a potential future development that could possibly affect their personal comfort and convenience,” the petition states.

The petition asserted that objections from seven nearby residents did not constitute valid evidence to deny the permit because the potential development of the property was not part of the application. Lake Sana also argued that county staff, which had recommended denying the permit, did not present any witnesses with expertise or fact-based evidence supporting a denial.

However, the three-judge panel found that testimony from the residents who said that filling the lake would impact their quality of life was sufficient in denying the permit. The order pointed out that one of the objectors stated he moved into the neighborhood to be near the lake and that he enjoys watching the birds, while another neighbor offered similar reasons for buying a house there.

“This fact-based lay testimony regarding aesthetics and neighborhood compatibility…constitute substantial competent evidence supporting the community zoning appeals board’s decision to deny the petitioner’s permit,” the order states.

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