War and Peacocks

A squabble between two South Dade neighbors has the feathers flying

That wasn't all, Fuchs has alleged. In three additional complaints logged with Metro-Dade police between May 1994 and April 1995, Fuchs accused the landscaper of hosing down her fowl, honking his car horn repeatedly, pounding on a sheet of metal, and igniting fireworks near her aviary, acts that she claimed created chaos inside the birdhouse and exacted a heavy toll on its inhabitants A five dead birds and six that were injured; 38 eggs destroyed. Total alleged damage: nearly $10,000.

Lapradd denies any of the incidents took place. "I did nothing that was abnormal to living in my house," he asserts. "I'm beating on things all the time because I'm rebuilding the house. There's a school behind on the other side of us that has parents picking up their kids and honking their horns to get their attention and she hasn't said anything about them."

Lapradd wasn't spending all of his time rebuilding his house, however. From March 1993 through the end of 1994, he fattened a file at Metro-Dade's building and zoning department, lodging complaints about illegal construction at the Fuchs home. In response to Lapradd's allegations, inspectors cited his neighbor for storing a mobile home on the property and for building a shed without a permit. In addition, officials discovered that the very crux of the spat -- the aviary itself -- had been erected sans permit. Although Fuchs had applied for and received a business license for the aviary, Deena Mullininx, a Metro-Dade zoning information supervisor, says that at about a quarter of an acre, her property is too small for such an enterprise. "By today's standards, you have to have a minimum of five acres for the commercial raising and breeding of exotic birds," Mullininx asserts. "At no time would this land qualify."

Additionally, despite a county code that requires a twenty-foot setback, the structure was found to actually encroach on the property line between the Fuchs and Lapradd residences.

The construction and storage violations, for which Fuchs has been fined $6000, are as yet unpaid. The county was prepared to place a lien on the property this past August but suspended enforcement after Fuchs requested a public hearing before the Metro-Dade Zoning Appeals Board, which has the authority to grant her a variance for the aviary. "Everything is on hold until the hearing," says Diane O'Quinn, zoning hearing section supervisor.

Lapradd still lives with his parents. After submitting to a judge the complaints she'd filed, plus tapes of Lapradd's angry messages on her answering machine and a video of him hollering at her during a confrontation in the street, Fuchs won an injunction preventing her neighbor from returning to his house and a restraining order forbidding him to come within her sight until the dispute is resolved in court.

"This is a malicious attempt to get back at me because I complained about her illegally building a shed and the aviary," Lapradd fumes. "They have screwed me in the perfect manner. I still have to pay the mortgage, FPL, the phone bill, but I can't live there.

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