AVENTURA, Fla. – July 13, 2017 – In a longstanding and contentious battle between residents of neighboring islands in Aventura’s Dumfoundling Bay and the developer of Privé at Island Estates, a luxury condominium project on the last undeveloped island in Miami-Dade County, the judge granted a major victory to the developer, represented by the Waldman Barnett legal team headed by partners Glen Waldman, Eleanor Barnett, and Jeffrey Lam.
In two of the many lawsuits filed to stop the Privé project, homeowners of Williams Island and the South Island in Dumfoundling Bay challenged the vested rights of landowner Gary Cohen to develop the North Island with multi-family residences. The judge ruled on June 5, 2017 that these neighboring homeowners’ challenges to the Vested Rights Determination Agreement between the City of Aventura and the owner of the North Island was untimely. The agreement affirmed the vested rights that had been in place for more than 40 years and permitted multi-family development of the North Island.
As reported by The Real Deal Miami and Law360, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge William L. Thomas wrote in his summary judgment order, favoring Waldman Barnett’s clients, that the homeowners’ 2013 challenges fell outside of the four-year statute of limitations governing the Vested Rights Determination Agreement recorded in Miami-Dade County’s records in 2006. The homeowners’ failure to challenge the Vested Rights Determination Agreement for over seven years was fatal to their claims. Waldman Barnett also argued that the homeowners had no legal standing to challenge the agreement in any event and the homeowners had failed to object to any of the development orders issued by the City of Aventura for the construction of the project.
The lawsuits are part of a string of legal challenges brought by homeowners on the smaller South Island that Cohen developed with single-family homes in 1998, and on nearby Williams Island, which contains numerous high-rise condominium towers built pursuant to the same vested rights in place for the North Island. The two groups alleged that only single-family homes – not two, 15-story condominium mid-rise towers – could be constructed on the North Island. With this latest ruling, these homeowners’ challenges to the vested rights is over.
“This most recent ruling is incredibly gratifying, as we have been asserting time and again – for almost four years – that these homeowners have no right to derail this project, which was approved by the City of Aventura,” said Waldman Barnett founding partner Glen Waldman. “They were clearly out of time and did not have legal standing to challenge vested rights, which were first recognized by the County in 1976 and subsequently reaffirmed by the City of Aventura by its vested rights determination, which was of record. We are extremely pleased that the Court agreed with our position that Mr. Cohen’s rights to develop the land as he and his partners have chosen to should not have been challenged in the first place, as these vested rights are protected by the U.S. and Florida Constitutions, are a compact between the owner of the property and the municipality, and were never waived or abandoned.”
In the meantime, final touches are being added to the individual units of Privé at Island Estates, and closings will occur soon, with move in by residents expected later this summer.