I sent them along to DERM, and my spreadsheet was returned showing that 18 projects were DERM approved; there was no DERM record for 3 of them; 1 was under review; and 1 was disapproved, that being the Kaskades, where full-blown construction was in progress.
A renegade contractor once told me, in regards to unpermitted work, that “Everybody does it, everybody knows it, and nobody cares.” In this case, the Galbuts were not “everybody.”
Still I recalled that Galbut had gotten rid of a huge double permit penalty at the Mondrian Hotel conversion, arguing that inspectors were on site, knew of the construction all along hence had constructively permitted it. The Miami Dade County Board of Rules agreed with a margin of 1 vote. A complaint was filed with the Miami Dade County Ethics Commission, asserting that Galbut had contributed over $10,000 to the mayoral campaign of one of the board members who voted in his favor twice. Of course the Ethics Commission saw no quid quo pro in that, and summarily dismissed the complaint. It is with that in mind that I asked DERM whether or not proceeding with construction without a DERM permit is inconsequential. Luis Espinoza, its communications program manager responded:
“The mission of the Miami
-Dade County Division of Environmental Resources Management is to protect water quality, drinking water supply, air quality and natural resources that are vital to the health and well-being of all Miami-Dade County residents and visitors. To accomplish this mission DERM implements monitoring, education, restoration, regulatory, and land management programs. Some of these programs include a permitting and/or plan review process that helps us ensure that new construction, developments, building renovations, etc are done acco
rding to the county’s environmental code, Chapter 24. As an environmental
agency, we take our mission very seriously; therefore, it is of the highest important that DERM approval is obtained prior to initiating a construction, development, renovation, etc.
Espinoza further informed me that DERM had issued a Notice of Violation and Orders for Corrective Action on 10 April for failure to obtain the necessary environmental approvals prior to commencing the project. The notice required submission of specific information and
documents in response to DERM’s plan disapproval
dated 3 February, stated that approval must be obtained within twenty days, and that failure to comply could result in the issuance of an order to cease and desist with construction the activities.
“Additionally, enforcement correspondence has been sent to the City of Miami Beach Building
Department advising of the requirement for DERM approvals prior to issuance of building permits, including phase permits, as required pursuant to Chapter 24 of the Miami-Dade County Code and in accordance with the federal Consent Decree.