South Miami gym owner upset with city could close his business

SOUTH MIAMI, Florida. – The owner of a South Miami gymnasium, at the center of a saga of several years following noise complaints, said his business may soon be forced to close.

Gabriel “Stunna” Varona, a retired mixed martial arts fighter, runs Stunna’s FIT on Southwest 62nd Avenue.

Neighbors who live near the gymnasium complained about the noise.

But Varona said he signed his lease there five years ago and said he has felt like he has been targeted by South Miami officials ever since.

Stunna’s FIT was supposed to have its business license renewed Sept. 30, but the city turned it down, Varona said.

“I don’t think there was any targeting by the city,” South Miami Mayor Sally Phillips said.

Code enforcement officials said the city does not issue license or permit renewals for businesses that have outstanding fines. Varona owes over $50,000 in subpoenas.

“No matter what I do, I will always be one step behind them because they manipulated the system,” he said. “No matter what I do, I’m going to be wrong.”

Varona paid part of the fines, but appealed.

South Miami city attorney Thomas Pepe said officials are holding back on enforcing their right to shut it down at this time until two important hearings next week.

When asked to comment, Pepe said the record speaks for itself.

Varona’s attorney said the city allowed him to open and he was able to renew his license every year after operating with respect and said the city was using taxpayer money to drive Varona out.

Varona’s attorney said that if the city shut down Stunna’s FIT, it would violate Varona’s rights.

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