Synagogue inside Aventura home sued for zoning violations
For years, a Jewish center near Aventura has been illegally holding religious services at a private home and doing unpermitted construction, according to a lawsuit filed in January by Miami-Dade County.
What's happening: Chabad Israeli Center of Miami holds religious services and classes out of a three-bedroom home zoned for residential use in unincorporated Miami-Dade County.
- The congregation, which bought the home in 2016, retrofitted it with an industrial kitchen, a living room classroom and a new air conditioning system.
- The unpermitted remodeling work also includes plumbing, electrical and exterior repairs — like new windows, a shed and a garage conversion — according to the lawsuit.
Why it matters: The county tells Axios that the unpermitted work could be exposing worshippers to "safety hazards" and that the lawsuit was a "last resort" to fix violations that date back to 2017.
- The property has received $1.5 million in property tax exemptions since 2021 due to its religious use, according to county property records.
- The county is asking a judge to force Chabad to fix the code violations and pay up to $10,000 per day per violation of the building code and up to $5,000 per day for violations of the zoning code.
What they're saying: The county said in a statement that the lawsuit is "a last resort" to ensure the building is brought up to code "so all can exercise their right to practice their faith safely."
- It says the synagogue currently owes $82,719 in unpaid fines for the violations.
A Chabad representative tells Axios the congregation is "in the middle of our zoning approval" and working with the county "to fix the building code [violations]."
- He declined to comment further.
Flashback: A similar legal battle took place last year in Miami Beach, where the city accused a different Jewish congregation of operating a private home as a place of worship.
More Miami stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Miami.