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2006-12-02
Miami, Fl. Citizens File Lawsuit To Block Home Depot

The epic saga of the residents of Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida vs. Home Depot reached another milestone this week, when 3 neighbors filed a lawsuit to prevent the giant retailer from renovating an empty Kmart store. Sprawl-Busters first wrote about this battle on November 19, 2004. Three residents who live near the property recently filed a lawsuit against the city of Miami for improperly issuing a permit for the project. "My clients have serious concerns about whether the city followed the law or not in granting this permit," Tucker Gibbs, the attorney representing residents Sarah D. Cullen, Sue McConnell and Leonard J. Scinto, told the Miami Sun Post. "They have told me that my direction is to fight Home Depot every step of the way. Everything they do we'll challenge, if we don't feel they have properly followed the law." City officials gave Home Depot a permit in June to renovate the old Kmart space. Home Depot wanted to build a much larger store, but because of neighborhood opposition, has now been confined to the shell of the 70,000 s.f. Kmart footprint. The lawsuit challenges the city's building permit. According to the plaintiffs, the permit "violates the clearly stated language of the zoning code. That language requires any large-scale retail establishment in this location to obtain a special exception and meet certain requirements. The appropriate city officials failed to review and approve this proposed large-scale retail establishment pursuant to the zoning requirements... The issuance of the building permit is a quasi-judicial matter requiring notice and an opportunity to be heard by the specially affected adjacent property owners, including the plaintiffs. The appropriate city officials failed to provide [them] with notice or an opportunity to be heard regarding the issuance of this building permit." Residents in Coconut Grove scored a victory in November when activist Marc Sarnoff was elected as a Miami Commissioner. Sarnoff told the newspaper, "I think the city and the Home Depot should be following the laws that were passed in April and
December 2005, which would limit the size of their facility. Residents do not want large industrial-use structures in their village."

What you can do: The citizen's group, The Grove First, has now been batting Home Depot for two years. The community is strongly united against this store, and with Sarnoff's election, has made it clear that they have enough political punch to win public office. Residents forced Home Depot to abandon its plans for a larger store, and the retailer reverted back to plans to live within the Kmart footprint. Any Coconut Grove resident addicted to Home Depot's Chinese imports can shop till they drop at the Home depot store just blocks away on 8th Avenue. The retailer obviously did not expect to run into a buzz saw of opposition in Coconut Grove, but they have now wasted two years of time and money trying to force their way into a community that does not want them. The Grove First even made a film about their battles with the retail colossus. For earlier stories, search Newsflash by "Miami." For local contacts in the Grove, contact info@sprawl-busters.com










 
 
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