By Jill Fox
Drainage issues have been a source of frustration for Parkland residents living in the wedge since Lennar began constructing homes in 2013.
Known as “the wedge,” it’s a portion of Parkland north of W Hillsboro Blvd and south of Loxahatchee Road. It was part of Palm Beach County until 2009 when a boundary change transferred it to Broward County.
Since then, it’s home to communities like Cascata, Four Seasons, MiraLago, Parkland Bay, and Watercrest.
In MiraLago, the first of Lennar’s residential developments in the area, homeowners have dealt with drainage problems for several years after their houses were built.
Complaints range from massive puddles, muck, and slime to surface moisture in their yards, shared spaces, and sidewalks. In addition, the builder did not adhere to their proposed timelines of project completions. Amenities, like the community’s clubhouse, weren’t finished on time.
MiraLago resident Nathaniel Klitzberg, who now sits on the city’s planning and zoning committee, said it took attending city commission meetings and dozens of planning and zoning meetings to get a response to any of their concerns.
Yet seven years later, city officials hear the same complaints from residents in other communities built by Lennar, and they are fed up and ready to take action.
“We worked so hard in MiraLago to address these issues. Why is it happening again?” asked Mayor Christine Hunschofsky, at the October 21 city commission meeting, “We should be learning from mistakes that were made in the past with Lennar.”
When construction in Cascata began, similar issues transpired. When those problems arose in newly built Parkland Bay, Hunschofsky asked the city engineering department for a proper analysis of the drainage so, as a commission, they could advocate for the residents’ best interest.
“My job is to serve the residents and to make sure that staff is holding developers accountable,” said Hunschofsky, who stressed that Lennar needed to live up to what they promised.
In Parkland Bay, the city has the same issues with their entrance, which was due to be completed before Lennar reached 100 closed building permits.
In August 2018, the commission amended the resolution to allow Lennar 270 additional days to complete the entry feature. The resolution stated, “Failure to timely obtain Certificate of Completion and pass all city inspections prior to the deadline shall result in the city withholding the issuance of any further building permits.”
Hunschofsky said, “There has to be something that the city can do from a process perspective, from a code perspective, something that can be done to make sure that Lennar acts like a good corporate citizen.”
MiraLago resident Robin Schall has been fighting with Lennar for almost seven years. “This is not a problem of the past,” she said, “The water does not drain from the sidewalks or the front yards.”
Assistant City Manager Sowande Johnson and City Engineer Enelise Michaels provided a report on drainage to the commission. In it, they said the engineering staff is exploring possible departmental policies and city code changes.
“It’s like déjà vu all over again,” said Hunschofsky, “I’m not sure why we think doing the same thing over and over will yield a different result — anybody who is saying that it will is either delusional or isn’t understanding what the issue is.”
When the mayor explained there should be something put in place to prevent further issues with the developer, Vice Mayor Bob Mayersohn spoke up and made a motion to put a moratorium on building permits in the wedge for the next 180 days to figure out what needs to be done to change the city codes.
Commissioner Rich Walker quickly seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
Next, steps include having the city attorney evaluate the moratorium from a legal perspective to see if it’s in the city’s best interest to pursue. This decision would prevent Lennar from continuing to build without solving the current issues.
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