On July 18, the city of Miami Planning Zoning and Appeals Board (PZAB) met to vote on changes to the Midtown Miami Master Plan to accommodate a Super Wal-Mart on 4.5 acres between Northeast 29th and 31st streets east of North Miami Avenue. Bernard Zyscovich, an architect and author of the Midtown Master Plan, testified. He recommended strongly against the proposed changes. The board heard 120 minutes of public testimony, primarily against Wal-Mart and unchecked growth, and voted unanimously to deny the recommended changes.
City commissioners should heed the vote of the board.
The heart of our Wal-Mart problem is pressure by Wal-Mart and landlord, DDR Corp., on city leaders to make unnecessary changes to the Midtown Miami Master Plan. The changes would facilitate a massive store that supersizes the small proposed site. The city manager recommended, and the city planning department presented, Wal-Mart’s case, without an application fee, traffic study or site plans entered into the public record for review.
Commissioners need facts, figures and plans to make good decisions for our community.
Wal-Mart’s proposed Midtown Master Plan changes could hurt the ability of pedestrians and bicyclists to safely navigate North Miami Avenue. Imagine the havoc caused by five traffic lanes and truck-loading docks with no medians and narrow gutters and sidewalks? The street would convert from being visually appealing and pedestrian and biker friendly, to being bland and dangerous.
If the City Commission approves Wal-Mart’s requests on Thursday, Midtown will be flooded with traffic but deprived of local character.
In response to eight years of improvements and an excellent master plan, city commissioners should honor Midtown Miami residents and vote No to Wal-Mart’s proposed changes.
Let Miamians design Midtown and let Wal-Mart design Bentonville, Ark.
Peter R. Ehrlich, Jr., Miami