South Florida

Neighbors Complain of ‘Desert Storm' in Their Neighborhood

When the housing bubble burst, construction pretty much came to a halt in South Florida. That’s turning around now and new developments are popping up all over town.

While this is good news for developers, a group of residents who live near one big development called NBC 6 Responds complaining that a construction site was polluting their air and making it difficult for them to enjoy their own homes.

The construction site is run by developer, Lennar. The developer is building a new residential community in Miami Lakes called Satori.

The site is located along Northwest 87th Avenue and just behind Eugene Betancourt’s house.

He says, a few weeks ago when winds picked up, clouds of dust covered his entire street, making it difficult to breath.

"You could see the white sand all over the air," he said.

He described it as a "desert storm."

Eugene is not alone, eight neighbors reached out to NBC 6 Responds complaining about the layers of dust covering their homes and a nearby park.

Among them, Guido Inguanso who said the air he was breathing was not good.

He filed a complaint with Miami-Dade County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management known as DERM. The department issued Lennar Homes an air pollution notice of violation, instructing them to control the dust or face a fine.

Via email, Marshal Ames, a company representative said  "…we have been experiencing windy conditions and as a result, dust has been an inconvenience… Lennar is going to lengths beyond those required to minimize the dust from our site."

A few days after that notice, we saw Lennar workers dousing the site with a green liquid they say helps keep the dust under control.

"Our inspector went out there and did the follow-up and noted that they did comply with the orders," said Rashid Istambouli who heads up DERM’s Pollution Regulation Division.

He says every construction site has a duty to control its emissions and residents should call DERM if a site is polluting their neighborhood.

Inspectors will go out within 48 hours and work with the company to fix the problem.

"We could issue tickets which include fines and those fines go on a daily basis, even if they still don’t comply it could go even up to court action," says Istambouli.

DERM officials say people can take pictures and video to send with their complaint. They can also file complaints for other issues including a bad smell or other unpleasant emissions.

To reach DERM you can call 305-372-6955 or file a complaint online by clicking here.

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