Mayor’s watering hole cleared of permit regulations by county board

Victor Citarella addressing the County Board of Rules and Appeals with Mayor Stoddard and wife Gray Read to his immediate left

The Miami-Dade County Board of Rules and Appeals passed a motion clearing Mayor Philip Stoddard’s watering hole of potential permit requiring pool status and determined it falls into the category of pond notwithstanding the two inches of concrete borders and maximum depth of seven feet on an approximate 1000 square foot body of water.

Although one board member said it looked more like a lake than a pond and board member Rolando Diaz worried about the access of children to the area, along with the main intent of the pond—whether it was for swimming or landscape—the motion declaring it a non-permit requiring pond passed unanimously. “My concern is safety,” said Diaz. “I have 11 grandkids and you say you have a fence but what about kids that are inside the house. If they get loose you have about five seconds (before possible drowning).”

Attorney Leonard Fiengold, the former city attorney who was fired during Stoddard’s first term, represented the Stoddards who were present at the meeting. Fiengold apologized to the board for taking up their time and said the issue was brought up as a result of city politics in the most recent election.

Stoddard said that although they used to swim in the pond “in the beginning” they now go to the neighbor’s house to swim and the kids only use it for fishing and tadpole hunting. Stoddard also said the pond had benign water snakes such as one they have named “Patrick” along with bass, mosquito fish, and migratory birds and no filtration system.

Built in 2004, the original intention was ecological restoration according to Stoddard. When asked by board member Carmen Garcia how the issue came about, Stoddard said after inviting former mayor Julio Robaina, Jr over for breakfast, he filed a complaint.

Of the three possible status options presented at the outset of the hearing: 1. a pool governed by building code, 2. a pond not covered by the building code and 3. some other type of structure covered by the code, the second determination was made by the board declaring this was a decision made on an individual basis and not a blanket interpretation. No photos of swimmers in the pond were presented.

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