Miami-Dade County

Walmart foes fight Midtown superstore permit in court — again

Rendering of new Walmart Midtown superstore
Rendering of new Walmart Midtown superstore

Opponents of a Midtown Walmart are once again asking the courts to toss a special permit for a 203,000-square-foot superstore on North Miami Avenue, arguing the city ignored a court order last month to force Walmart to start its permit application over from scratch.

The petition, filed by a group of four business and eight area residents, including prominent local artist David Le Batard, follows a vote by the Miami City Commission last month to once again uphold the decision of its Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board to deny an appeal of Walmart’s superstore by area residents and local activists.

The commission’s first vote one year earlier led a group of residents to file an earlier petition to the 11th Circuit to uphold the appeal, and they were successful in October when a judicial panel ruled the city had improperly granted Walmart five loading berths through an administratively approved Class II Special Permit when only three berths were allowed.

Their attorney, Paul Savage, argued that the ruling meant the city had to uphold the appeal, and send Walmart back to the drawing board. But the city’s attorneys and commissioners disagreed, saying the proper recourse was to prove an amended plan with three loading berths.

Now, Walmart’s foes say the city and retailer didn’t even do that.

On Wednesday, in what was an expected move, they filed another petition stating that Walmart ignored the court’s previous ruling and instead “chose to submit a document published only three days prior to the hearing with revised plans that placed a small ‘x’ and shading over one of the loading berths and labeling it a ‘staging area’ with no actual substantive or structural changes to the plans.”

Miami City Attorney Victoria Mendez, who dismissed that argument when it was made during last month’s hearing, did not respond to a request for comment. Amanda Henneberg, director of communications for Walmart, said in a statement that the retailer and city followed the court order appropriately.

“It’s unfortunate that a small group of individuals are going to great lengths to delay the arrival of hundreds of new jobs and affordable grocery options in Midtown Miami,” she said, “despite overwhelming support for a new Walmart from residents in nearby Wynwood, Overtown, Allapattah and Downtown Miami.”