Housing Boom

WSVN — Imagine living in your home and feeling the floor shake beneath your feet. Residents of one South Florida community said it’s happening to them and is causing damage to their homes. 7’s Belkys Nerey has more on what’s causing this “Housing Boom.”

Boutros Hage, resident: “I like it because it’s a family community.”

Boutros Hage wanted a safe place for his family to live. So they moved into the Palm Springs North neighborhood in West Miami-Dade.

Shortly after they moved in, things got shaky … literally.

Boutros Hage: “The house shake, it’s amazing. The shaking like you living in war.”

Mariano Domenech, resident: “In the early 90s is when the problem started.”

And their neighbor, Mariano, says the problem isn’t going away.

Mariano Domenech: “As the ground shifted from the explosion vibrations, the tiles lift up.”

Dozens of residents have complained about the tremors wrecking their property.

Mercy Sierra: “My boat ramp cracked in half.”

Barbara Hagan: “His house cracked from the ceiling down to the ground floor.”

John Pena: “There’s cracks on the wall, and the patio’s moved away from the house.”

They all blame a local rock quarry.

Mercy Sierra: “We’re having residents that have light bulbs that have broken, chandeliers that are shaking, picture frames that have fallen off the walls.”

This quarry harvests limestone about 10 miles from the neighborhood, and the only way to get that limestone is by blasting.

Jim Hurley, President, White Rock Quarries: “In our business, you can’t mine excavate the product without drilling and blasting it.”

Jim Hurley says, when the company White Rock Quarries started, there was nothing out here, but now neighborhoods have been built nearby.

Jim Hurley: “Our mining operations are located in an area that’s been designated by the county. Urban sprawl is encroaching.”

In an effort to be a good neighbor, the company installed seismic readers to measure the blasts.

Jim Hurley: “We’re not in the business to destroy homes and destroy people’s livelihood.”

Blast limits were lowered after a study was done in 2000.

Jim Hurley: “We agreed as an industry to self-regulate ourselves down from a .75 to a .5. Our operations are running from a .12 up to a .3, so we’re operating well below the standards.”

But residents say it’s not enough.

Mariano Domenech: “It’s still causing damage.”

State Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. heard the neighbors’ concerns and asked for a new study in 2015.

Manny Diaz Jr.: “How the effects of that mine in particular there has on that surrounding neighborhood, because the area has changed.”

But the legislation was shot down.

Manny Diaz Jr.: “That was vetoed, unfortunately.”

Neighbors say they won’t give up, because in the end, it’s their homes they are fighting for.

Boutros Hage: “I hope this goes a little bit forward and we fix the problem.”

Mariano Domenech: “I don’t know how much damage we can withstand.”

Mr. Hurley says four damage claims have been brought against the quarry. One has been withdrawn and three are being worked on now.

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