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Monday, July 20, 2015

Old trees making way for new Italian garden

I've been contacted by so many people about the two large trees that were cut down on the corner of Commodore and Grand.

They were cut down by Farinelli 1937, the new restaurant opening on the corner there.  I spoke with Maurizio Farinelli, owner of the restaurant, he also owns Strada, across the street.

"First, let me say that I've been living in the area for the past 25 years. One reason I love the area is because of the foliage. I want to be a part of the Coconut Grove community," he said.

He told me that the trees were dying and branches were falling, while he did not realize he needed permits and permission to do anything he is more than willing to take the blame, pay the fines and mitigation and move on from there. His future plans for the site sound great. He wants to put in more trees, the same ones on Commodore Plaza and he wants to turn that corner into an Italian garden, including freshly grown herbs. These were his plans before the trees were cut down, it's not a mitigation backtrack.

I think if FrameWorks, across the street, can get the right tenant for their first floor and the Italian herb garden setting at Farinelli 1937, this will be the best corner in Coconut Grove. Add Strada and LoKal and it's a little foodies corner of the village. With Lulu and Greenstreet on the other end of the street, it's quite an inviting area.

Maurizio tells me that he is hoping for a Thanksgiving time opening, DERM is the usual hold up when it comes to restaurants. I joked with him that he's in a race now to beat Harry's Pizzeria, which is on McFarlane Road, to see who opens first, but he says they are different restaurants and will compliment each other. And of course the more restaurants around here, the better. We are all looking forward to all of them.

For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

He's been living in the area for 25 years and he did not know he needed a permit to cut down the trees?

July 20, 2015 7:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon@7:18 - I was just about to type the EXACT same thing..

July 20, 2015 7:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course he knew. All developers of residential, commercial and retail space are well aware of the rules. They choose to disobey them, accept the fine and do what works best for their project. To them, it's just the cost of doing business. What galls me is their claim of ignorance.

July 20, 2015 7:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Based on my recollections and the size of the remaining stump shown in the photo, these were at least 200 year old trees.

Apparently if trees conflict with a restauranteur's plans its now ok to unilaterally decide to cut them down?
Cutting them down was a selfish brazen act. If a developer did this the whole community would be enraged.

The trees, particularly the old trees, are part of the Grove heritage and what makes the Grove unique. Simply taking a chain saw to the old growth is a deliberate and serious desecration of our community. IS Farinelli getting a pass because he owns a restaurant? A slap on the wrist and a fine is not enough for someone who decides that he would remake the Grove to his own needs and "just pay the fines and move on"
He should go to jail for this. At the very least his restaurants should be boycotted..until the new trees are about 200 years old..

July 20, 2015 9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Better to ask forgiveness than permission" comes to mind, but as "better to pay the fine than apply for the proper permits and have them denied."

July 20, 2015 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading this story I walked to the area and observed there are no indications on what remains of these trees that there was rot or disease. And they were both well rooted. So, lie # 1. And as readers have already commented Mr. Farinelli, who claims he loves "foliage" cut down 2 trees. Lie # 2. Lie # 3., he claims he knew nothing about obtaining permits to fell trees in Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida. If one looks down Grand, East & West, you will note that the sidewalks and easements are 13 feet wide, but narrow slightly East of Commodore, and further East are the power poles that are part of this 13' easement. I.E., he cut down our trees that are on a public easement, public property.

I suggest that those in the Grove who do in fact enjoy our foliage never, ever eat at a location where the owners words are worthless.

And since when does the Grape "JOKE" endear folks who cut down tree's in our Grove?

Jobie Steppe

July 20, 2015 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will never eat there and will make sure everybody I know doesn't either.selfish b______.who knows what he does with are food.

July 20, 2015 10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boycott for sure

July 20, 2015 10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets see; "He wants to put in more tree" after cutting down two perfectly healthy trees, and "He wants to turn that corner into an Italian garden, including freshly grown herbs". Lets see; just how many dogs will urinate and defecate about this very public corner herb garden, precisely where they have been urinating and defecating the last 50 years or so? Of course, an owner who lies is going to wash the urine and fecal matter off with about 27 washes or perhaps one or maybe none, no thanks to any corner herb garden visited like some fire hydrant begging for dogs to raise their leg or squat a second or two.

July 20, 2015 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He should be required to replace the tree with one of equally substantial height, canopy and girth as the one that was destroyed. That is the only acceptable form of "mitigation" that should be allowed. Such trees are available and can be moved... make him cover the cost.

July 20, 2015 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The trees that were cut down were Callistemon or Bottlebrush trees, non-natives, though mature trees. Certainly not 200 years old. They needed to be pruned and cleaned up rather than cut down but could have been root-pruned and relocated, alternatively. This is not the most egregious case of canopy-slaughter we have witnessed in the Grove but it is certainly a pattern. The penalties need to be more severe. Perhaps, as amends to flouting the law, in addition to replanting new trees on the site, the owner could also donate additional canopy trees to be planted elsewhere in the Grove. It would go a long way to assuage the feelings of many in the community who place significant value on the maintaining and growing the tree canopy in the Grove.

July 20, 2015 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fine should be twice the taxable value of the property (with any current or intended improvements). That's the only way to actually deter.

Though, a good ol fashioned tar & feathering does have some appeal here.

July 20, 2015 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Herb garden is a bad joke!

July 20, 2015 2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like heck he didn't know. The company that cut them down knew, too. I will never go to this restaurant and I will spread the word to others to boycott it, too. What a jerk to take down the trees and then pretend he had no idea. Wonder what other corners he will cut in food sourcing and preparation.... Shame.

July 20, 2015 3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hes not a real Grovite... how does one think that they own the trees in our neighborhood (he is frickin renting for f#cks sake)... so much as to cut them down completely! I wont eat there based on his arrogance alone, and I will tell others about it as well..Dirtbag. He should be fined as well as the owner of the property. And he should replace them, screw his little garden. We want our trees back where they should be. Im sure they all knew(Point Groupe and Strada) what the big plans were. When did he cut them down? I didnt see any work goin on there at all in the morning or early afternoon...nor in the early evening. Sunday snake.

July 20, 2015 3:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does one bring such a rat to justice. Narcissistic jerk. The minimal fines won't mean anything. Public humiliation and business failure due to boycott will make the next snake in the grass think twice. This should be in the Herald and New Times as well.

July 20, 2015 5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I passed those trees all the time. They weren't dying, they needed water and some tree service to clean up the dead branches. Guy acted out of self interest. Another example of the greed in The Grove. Boycott The Strada. He can take his herb garden and shove it.

July 20, 2015 5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Maurizio and the venue he has created. But it's a stretch to believe that an intelligent man like himself thought he could have his way with city property. Renter or owner, the trees were in public rights of way. I hope he responds to the comments here.

July 20, 2015 5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He wouldn't DARE comment! What could he possibly say? He defaces our Grove and responds "One reason I love the area is because of the foliage" yet he destroys what he says he loves. He says "I want to be a part of the Coconut Grove community" yet he destroys a small portion. He doesn't say he lives in our Grove, he said "I've been living in the area for the past 25 years". Isn't Miami Beach, Ft. Lauder Perrine, and Homestead part of "the area" he refers to? The only way to deal with this type of mentality is to boycott both Farinelli 1937 and Strada and wait for the day when he passes on as these tree were sent on their way. Not to worry, when he opens there will be plenty of reminders of his deed; boycott, boycott, boycott.

July 20, 2015 7:20 PM  
Blogger reid prevatt said...

All the Anonymous ? come on folks. Speak up. Absolutely no excuse and one of you is going to make sure this guy and the tree trimmer gets there fair share of the blame. Tree trimmer
what a crook.

July 20, 2015 8:13 PM  
Anonymous L. Curtis said...

I recently moved to the Grove. Mainly because of the beauty of how the city has these amazing trees. Today I walked to that area and felt something off... I couldn't figure out what it was. Then I saw the stumps and just stood their in amazement at the stupidity of the restauranteur for chopping down something so endearing to that corner. I've yet to make my way to the strada to eat. I'm a bit of a foodie and was anxious to try it as well as this new place once it opens. I guess that won't happen now. If the owner has such little regard for this community, imagine their lack of care for the customers or food they serve. This isn't a judgement, however I feel this action speaks volumes on their integrity, how they think of the town and her residents. I feel very sorry for the grove. I truly had hoped to put roots down, but I can only think that if I do, someone like this will only come to chop down whatever I plant here. I do hope the residents show their displeasure and forgo going to either establishments. The people can make a difference. Don't let apathy kill what remains of this beautiful place- please. It's about preserving the legacy- not chopping it down.

July 20, 2015 11:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I go to Lokal all the time. I'm glad I never went to Strada. Now I never will. Mr. Farinelli, save your money and time and don't bother opening another restaurant in the Grove. Word of mouth recommendations make or break businesses in the Grove and you really shot yourself in the foot with your callous act. I've already made it known to all my friends that your businesses aren't good members of our community. Being a good neighbor and good citizen are dying qualities in South Florida...I hope the Grove can be better than that.

July 21, 2015 6:34 PM  

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