Midtown Walmart Plans Back at Commission as Opponents Threaten New Lawsuit

Walmart's plans to build a mega shopping center in the heart of Miami's burgeoning Midtown neighborhood hit a speed bump last month when a panel of judges handed a partial victory to a vociferous group of neighborhood activists. The judges ordered the city to reconsider Walmart's application, ruling that it had improperly been approved.

Tomorrow the commission will do just that. But opponents of the project say the resolution the city has drafted does little to address the problems and warn another lawsuit will result if it's passed.

"This is what getting railroaded looks like," activist Grant Stern tells Riptide about the resolution. "But it's immaterial. They're going to go out and get the most pyrrhic victory in history."

See also: Walmart Is Coming to Midtown, Like It or Not

Stern and his cohorts challenged Walmart's plans for the 200,000-foot store on a range of issues that mostly boiled down to the corporation skirting code rules to get approval for its mega-center.

On October 15, a three judge panel ordered the Miami City Commission to reconsider its earlier approval for the project, ruling that the commission's previous vote was a "departure from the essential requirements of the law."

So tomorrow, commissioners will look at a new resolution. But instead of re-considering the larger issue of whether there should have been public hearings and more public traffic studies about Walmart's plans, the commission will look at only one, simple question raised in court: Whether Walmart's plans included too many loading bays.

Walmart's reps tell the Miami Herald they're confident the commission -- which backed them 5-0 last time around -- will once again give the project a green light.

Stern, meanwhile, says if the commission does re-approve the plans without addressing the broader problems, opponents will quickly file a new legal complaint.

"This is totally expected from the city," he says. "We're just going to be back in court over these same questions."

Here's the court's ruling from October 15:

11th Circuit Court Opinion Midtown Miami Wal-Mart Unanimously Rejected by Grant Stern

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink