Land Grab

Why would some vacant property in dirt-poor, dysfunctional Opa-Locka lead to all-out war?


In an odd twist, the chaotic nature of Opa-locka city government ended up working against Pinnacle, at least in the short run. At a meeting four weeks ago the city commission unexpectedly voted 3-2 against the Serenity Lakes project -- this after more than two hours of debate that included lawyers for the neighbors and several attorneys and experts hired by Pinnacle. At times the meeting bore only a passing resemblance to the quasi-judicial hearing it was supposed to be, as rules of procedure were applied somewhat whimsically by Mayor Myra Taylor, who voted for the project.

Michael Pizzi, an attorney representing some of the homeowners, won the competition for best legal floor show. Page Shuff offered up more documents she said had disappeared from the public files. Later her attorney was kicked out. José Perez de Corcho also had to be escorted outside after he protested not being allowed to speak. The previous day Perez de Corcho had learned that Pinnacle intended to run a road through Sailboat Cove's property for water and sewer lines. He was outraged to discover this inadvertently after months of trying to obtain public records from the city. In all the confusion, it was a shock to most when the commission at last voted the project down. "Geez, you don't see this very often," a slightly dazed Pizzi remarked afterward. "The little guy actually won!"

This round, at least. It's unlikely Pinnacle will accept defeat. "It ain't over till it's over," warns Wohl.

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