BY IVETTE M. YEE
Angry residents in Northwest Dade have had enough of blasting.
Citizens Against Blasting, a group of more than 200 homeowners, announced Wednesday that it will file a class action lawsuit against Rinker Materials Corp. and six other companies over the effects of blasting limestone in Northwest Miami-Dade County to produce building materials.
Twenty-four hours later, another blast hit.
“I thought it was an earthquake,’’ said Arlene Plumley, who lives in Palm Springs North. “It’s like they were angry at us for filing the suit, like they were trying to say, `Take that.’ ‘’
The group is seeking $22 million in damages, claiming the blasting has badly damaged houses, cracking walls, foundations and swimming pools.
“We have a right to live in our homes and enjoy peace and quiet without having them violently shak- en. We want this to stop and to also get some compensation for our damages,’’ said Michael Pizzi, president of Citizens Against Blasting and a Miami Lakes community council member.
David M. Wells, an attorney for Rinker Materials, said the Ocala-based company has been blasting
in West Dade for 30 years and complies with Miami-Dade law. “We are completely confident that we have not caused any homeowners damages,’’ he said. “We look forward to reading the lawsuit and hopefully sitting down with residents to do some talking.’’
He said there has always been blasting in the area and the problem is that more homes are being built closer to the blasting site.
The other companies named in the suit are Vecellio Realty Inc., WRQ Property Associates, Tarmac Florida Inc., Sunshine Rock Inc., Sawgrass Rock Quarry Inc. and Pelmad Corp. All are Florida-based and run operations in Northwest Dade.
Although two of the firms are not blasting companies, Gonzalo Dorta, an attorney for Citizens Against
Blasting, said they are also liable.
“Those companies either subcontracted the blasting companies or own the land and pulled the per- mits to blast,’’ said Dorta. He noted that under Florida case law the companies are responsible for any negligence resulting from ultra-hazardous activities, including explosions.
Residents of the affected areas, which include Country Club of Miami, Palm Springs North, Miami Lakes and Hialeah Gardens, said blasting has continued unabated for the past two years. They said
they have called county officials on numerous occasions to take action – all to no avail.
“There was this one humongous blast recently, three to four times stronger than all the others. It felt like the earth moved,’’ said Nanette Maccari, who lives in Country Club of Miami. “I could hear my house creaking. My bookshelves came crashing down and the chairs in my house were wobbling from side to side. I felt dizzy and I burst into tears.’’
Maccari showed a notebook in which, she said, she has logged the time, day and damage of each
blast for the past year.
Some homeowners claim they’ve lost personal items as well.
“See here, this is a picture of my daughter when she was 6 years old. It was shattered because of a
blast,’’ said Yolanda Arroyo, a resident of Palm Springs North.
Pizzi said builders and real estate companies failed to notify some homeowners about the blasting. A Miami-Dade ordinance requires that prospective buyers be told if blasting is occurring within a two- mile radius of the home they contemplate buying.
Some residents say talk is not enough. Citizens Against Blasting, with the help of state Sen. Roberto Casas, R-Hialeah, announced it had submitted an anti-blasting bill to the state Legislature. If passed, the bill would make Florida the first state to impose statewide regulations regarding blasting activities in neighborhoods. “There’s got to be an end to this. We need the rock, but my God, they can’t destroy our homes in the process,’’ said Alan Rigerman of Palm Springs North.