County cracks down on a mom-and-pop landmark

After serving breakfast and lunch to migrant workers and farmers from a tin-roof shack for more than half a century, David Anderson's Redland Grocery (26400 SW 187th Ave.) is in hot water with Dade County's environmental bureaucracy. "We've been in survival mode for quite some time," he says. "It's hard to stay in business in this economy. We certainly don't need the county making it harder for us to stay open."

Built in 1912 as Pioneer Guild Hall, a home for a women's social service group bearing the same name, the structure located on agricultural land in southern Miami-Dade was converted to a mom-and-pop general store and gas station in the 1920s. Anderson's mother and father took over Redland Grocery in 1943, serving fried chicken and pulled-pork barbecue sandwiches along with homemade tamales. In the 1990s, Redland Conservancy, a nonprofit group committed to preserving the area's agricultural and rural character, designated the store a historic site.

But the Miami-Dade Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM) has been putting the squeeze on him, Anderson claims, by forcing him to conduct expensive testing for contamination of Redland Grocery's groundwater wells every month. Initially, DERM officials had refused to close out a building permit on Anderson's property because of the potential contamination from petroleum and sewage waste.

This past June, Anderson appealed to the county's Environmental Quality Control Board, which found that the "on-site drinking water supply well will not be detrimental to the public health." The board granted Anderson a variance on the condition he monitor his wells. "I've already spent $7000," Anderson grouses. "There is really no reason to do what they are asking for. This is completely uncalled for."

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