Miami power couple under fire over hacked mangroves. It’s not the first time.

Sunday, 12 November 2017, 04:11:36 AM. Armed with a cell phone, a neighbor in a posh neighborhood along Biscayne Bay recorded a confrontation with renowned architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia as a landscape crew cleared protected mangroves from his $5 million property in the wake of Hurricane Irma. After complaints, the county issued an order to halt the work.
For the last decade, the powerhouse couple behind Arquitectonica, a renowned architecture firm that has shaped skylines from Miami to Singapore, have been wrestling with a more earthbound problem: how to trim the protected mangroves blocking a million-dollar view of the water in one of the city’s toniest neighborhoods. Thanks to Hurricane Irma, neighbors say Bernardo Fort-Brescia and Laurinda Spear finally found their fix. Using the powerful storm as cover, they say the couple carved up the stand, opening a new vista to Biscayne Bay. “I don’t know on what planet that isn’t a violation,” said neighbor Karen Holzman. “I’m just so tired of somebody thinking that the rules don’t apply to them.” Workers cut mangroves in the days after Hurricane Irma without getting approval from county environment regulators. The property owners’ attorney said that the work was allowed under Gov. Rick Scott’s emergency order on the removal of debris. AL DIAZ In the days after the storm, angry neighbors called county environmental regulators, who saw enough damage to issue a cease and desist order. They photographed a swath of newly lopped trees and videotaped workers using chains and trucks to pull up stumps and churn up a protected wetland after a Bobcat got stuck. They called police to try to stop the work. In one heated exchange recorded by a neighbor, Fort-Brescia angrily tried to bat away her phone as she questioned him. “Are you filming, Nancy?” Fort-Brescia...Read more
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