By Frances Wang

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The City of Miami filed a lawsuit Monday against the homeowner of two Belle Meade Island properties after neighbors said they have had enough with the large, loud parties.

Residents like Rita Legace have binders of photos, showing the large and loud parties at the connected properties in their once peaceful neighborhood.

Miami-Dade County Carlos Gimenez has cited social gatherings like parties as a contributor to the state’s recent spike in coronavirus cases among young people.

“It’s ridiculous. Sometimes, the parties have been up to 100 people, sometimes 400, sometimes less,” said Legace. “They’re always loud.”

Legace said the owner doesn’t live at the properties but rents them out for vacations and parties.

“I call it a horror show, a combination of many nuisances, people driving their cars and speeding, just the amount of cars,” said Legace. “There’s just a combo of everything. You do not know when it’s going to happen. You may have company and it’s embarrassing for people to come to your house and see the shenanigans next door. The music is so loud, it’s not normal.”

Legace said the trouble began long before the coronavirus pandemic, but now with bars and nightclubs closed, her small neighborhood has become the new South Beach.

“I think he has more people coming to Belle Meade [than South Beach,” said Legace. He was running these parties for almost 2 years. They’re just getting bigger.”

From girls dancing on rooftops to massages to rappers filming videos, Legace feels she has seen it all. She said a lot of the parties are advertised through social media fliers, where people can purchase tickets to attend.

Legace is one of many neighbors who has called code enforcement officials and police, but the nuisance doesn’t stop.

The City of Miami is now filing a lawsuit against the homeowner, listed as John Petrozza.

Petrozza did not respond to a request for comment.

The complaint from the city attorney’s office details how the property was listed on Airbnb as a vacation rental until the listing was removed by the app itself.

The homeowner allegedly ignored a cease and desist letter sent in April and the emergency order issued by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis banning vacation rentals.

As recent as July, City of Miami Police were called out and reported up to 200 people who were intoxicated.

“It’s like banging your head against the wall. You just don’t get anywhere,” said Legace who has retained an attorney of her own.

“I am proud to represent Ms. Lagace in regaining the peace and quiet she rightfully expects to enjoy in her home,” said Legace’s attorney, Mary Ann Ruiz. “We thank the City of Miami, City Attorney, Victoria Mendez, and Assistant City Attorney, Rachel S. Dooley, for filing a civil lawsuit to return Belle Meade Island to the peaceful and quiet residential neighborhood it has always been.”

Frances Wang

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