Miami commissioner aims to address legislation to increase safety of Edgewater high-rise over falling debris

MIAMI – Environment regulators in Miami-Dade County issued the Melo group’s Aria Reserve construction multiple citations this week after they said the workers and not complying with measures that need to be put in place to keep construction, wastewater and sediment out of Biscayne Bay.

Last week, Miami officials ordered construction to stop the development of a twin-tower condominium in the city’s Edgewater neighborhood after residents complained that falling debris from the site put them in danger.

Some residents near The Melo Group’s Aria Reserve project say the developer has not installed sufficient safety netting in place to mitigate against the potential of construction debris falling onto a nearby residential property and Biscayne Bay.

Daniel Martinez lives next to the towering Melo Group Aria Reserve construction site in Edgewater, where a two-by-four speckled with exposed nails recently crashed onto his pool deck.

On Wednesday, Martinez shared his thoughts on the project and how some of his safety concerns are not being addressed.

“No one is safe, he said. “Although they put a safety net, it is only at the top.”

Miami-Dade Division of Environmental Resources Management Director Lisa Spadafina told Local 10 News the city has issued the developer multiple citations for non-compliance with permits designed to keep construction out of Biscayne Bay.

According to Spadafina, these citations come with an actual monetary penalty. The $500 original ticket was compounded per day of the violation.

While Local 10 News was interviewing a Biscayne Bay resident last Tuesday, our crew spotted construction being done on several levels of the property — after the city issued a stop-work order, mandating that “the only work allowed is for the debris net.

“Construction is a very messy business,” Spadafina said. “There’s a lot of gravel and dirt, so if they are not careful, the material can run off into the street and discharge into the bay.

Also reviewing the construction site is Miami District 2 Commissioner Sabina Covo.

She said this incident, along with a worker killed during a crane collapse at Mercy Hospital, and the crash of demolition debris onto a Brickell sidewalk has her exploring new legislation pertaining to construction safeguards.

“That would actually create a technical amendment to Chapter 33 of the Florida Building Code to actually mimic what New York has,” said Covo. “New York has been building high rises and going vertical way before we did and unfortunately at this point since we follow Florida’s building code, we are not up to standards because we are one of the few cities within Florida that has had this type of overdevelopment.”

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For more information on New York City’s safeguards during the Construction/Demolition Building Code, click here.

On Monday, a City of Miami spokesperson said: “According to our Building Department, the contractor has been notified about the loose debris, and we expect immediate action/compliance”— but did not address the call by some residents for more safety netting at the site or whether it will be ordering the developer to add more robust safety netting along the sides of the building flanking nearby residents, public streets and Biscayne Bay.

Some residents told Local 10 News the City is also not responding to them through email on the additional safety netting issue, inquiry, or request.

The developer’s spokesperson did not respond to an invitation to address the residents’ concerns and citations from the Department of Environment Resources Management.

DERM released the following statement to Local 10 News Wednesday, which you can read here:

“DERM staff have been addressing the turbid discharge complaints and NPDES (National Pollutants Discharge Elimination System) violations associated with the project.

The Water Control Section issued a UCVN (Uniform Civil Violation Notice) on September 25, 2023, for lack of erosion and sedimentation control measures and failure to comply with the previously issued field Notice. Alfredo Castillo inspected the site on September 28, 2023, and the site still was not in compliance with the UCVN that required resolving violations within 24 hours; the company was notified that there would be continuous violations and the amount of penalty will be multiplied to numbers of days that will take to address the violations.

The original ticket is for $500.00 plus a surcharge (issued on September 25, 2023). As of Tuesday, the permittee (due to non-compliance) should pay $3,500 ($500 times seven days), but the full amount hasn’t been determined yet.“

Miami-Dade County Environmental Resources Management

Read the violations here:

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(WPLG)

A spokesperson for the developer referred Local 10 News to a previous statement sent last week that does not address the DERM citations or the growing call from nearby residents that the Melo Group add more safety screens to mitigate against the potential falling construction debris could have on nearby life, property, and Biscayne Bay.

Derm also released a statement following an inspection of the area, which you can read here:

Based on the inspection conducted today, the contractor has been working on resolving violations. The contractor deployed a vacuum truck to clean drainage structures along the road rights-of-way and areas around inlets.

construction (WPLG)

WHAT OFFICIALS SAY THE MELO GROUP NEEDS TO DO TO BE IN COMPLIANCE:

Developers will need to make measures on the construction site to make sure their materials are not leaving the construction site.

Storm drains in the area will need to be secured with filters to prevent the sediments from making their way into the storm drain and then out to the water nearby.

Installation of turbidity curtains to limit the amount of material that can come out into the waterway.

“When you have an ongoing problem, generally speaking, you have to do more than just the storm drainage filter devices and turbidity curtains,” said Spadafina. “You have to clean out the system because the system is impacted by all the sedimentation and if you don’t remove it every time it rains it can be picked up by the water and run off to the Bay.”

WHY KEEPING THE BAY HEALTHY IS IMPORTANT TO THE LOCAL ECONOMY:

Not only is the bay a huge economic driver for Miami-Dade County, but it really is the jewel of the county. Everyone who recreates on the Bay is a huge environmental engine for the resources of the County including our fish and sea grasses and corals but adds value economically as well as recreationally,” said Spadafina.

Residents and visitors are urged to call the 24/7 Miami-Dade County Environmental Complaints Line. If you see cloudy discharge from construction sites into Biscayne Bay call 305-372-6955 or email [email protected] or [email protected].

Read MELO’s safety net letter to Miami building officials here: