Opponents of Walmart Midtown Miami plan appeal to zoning board

10/01/2013 2:40 PM

10/02/2013 7:10 AM

Opponents of Walmart in Midtown Miami will get yet another shot at stopping the giant retailer from opening shop in one of the trendiest parts of the city Wednesday night when they go before the city’s Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board at Miami City Hall.

Led by mortgage broker Grant Stern, the group believes the 203,000-square-foot project doesn’t conform with neighborhood design standards. It also argues Planning Director Francisco Garcia erred when he ruled in mid-August that Walmart had to meet certain minor conditions, but that the plan doesn’t require any major variances, or changes that would force the lengthy process to begin all over again.

Garcia said before Walmart begins construction in a two-block area between Northeast 29th and 31st streets and Midtown Boulevard and North Miami Avenue, it must, among other things, submit final building plans, replace uprooted trees, and agree not to let delivery vehicles enter Midtown Boulevard from 31st Street.

The retailer said it readily agreed to those conditions.

But Stern and his loud group, which have flooded City Hall during meetings and set up an anti-Walmart website, had bigger issues with the design plan. They argue variances should be required because the top two floors of the three-story plan aren’t set back the required 10 feet, and because while only three loading bays are permitted inside the building, the plan calls for five.

In a seven-page appeal filed at the end of August, the group claimed Walmart has too many blank surfaces on its exterior walls, and disparate architectural styles. The Walmart plan also calls for 577 parking spaces on the top two floors.

The hearing before the zoning board begins at 6:30 p.m. Since either side can appeal the board’s decision, the issue is likely to come before city commissioners during a final hearing in November.

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