South Miami gym owner upset city could shut down business – WPLG Local 10

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Annaliese Garcia, Reporter
Published: October 10, 2022, 6:13 PM
Annaliese Garcia, Reporter
SOUTH MIAMI, Fla. – The owner of a South Miami gym, at the center of a years-long saga over noise complaints, said his business could soon be forced to shut down.
Gabriel “Stunna” Varona, a retired mixed martial arts fighter, runs Stunna’s FIT on Southwest 62nd Avenue.
Neighbors who live near the gym have complained about noise.
But Varona said he signed his lease in the location five years ago and said he feels like he’s been targeted by South Miami officials ever since.
Stunna’s FIT was supposed to have its business license renewed Sept. 30, but the city denied it, Varona said.
“I don’t think that there’s been any targeting by the city,” South Miami Mayor Sally Phillips said.
Code enforcement officials said the city does not issue renewals of licenses or permits for businesses that have outstanding fines. Varona owes more than $50,000 in citations.
“No matter what I do, I’m always gonna be a step behind them because they manipulated the system,” he said. “No matter what I do, I’m gonna be wrong.”
Varona has paid a portion of the fines, but he’s appealing several.
Thomas Pepe, South Miami’s city attorney, said officials are holding off on enforcing their right to close him down for the time being until two important hearings next week.
When asked for comment, Pepe said the record speaks for itself.
Varona’s attorney said the city allowed him to open his doors and he’s been able to renew his license every year after operating respectfully and said the city is using taxpayer dollars to drive Varona out.
Varona’s attorney said if the city shuts Stunna’s FIT down, it would be violating Varona’s rights.
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Annaliese Garcia joined Local 10 News in January 2020. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami, where she studied broadcast journalism. She began her career at Univision. Before arriving at Local 10, she was with NBC2 (WBBH-TV) covering Southwest Florida. She's glad to be back in Miami!
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