Miami resident Michael Brooks rose to speak at a recent meeting of the North Miami City Council regarding a proposed Home Depot. “You want the nicest neighborhood in North Miami cluttered with this garbage? I don’t want to live next to Home Depot. It is outrageous to think anyone who lives in that area would want to.” Last month, the North Miami City Council voted to oppose the project, and send staff to the Miami-Dad County Community Council Area 7 Board. But last week the City Council voted not to send staff to express an opinion. Residents from the Keystone and San Souci neighborhoods have spoken out loudly against the plan. The loudest objections have been to the close proximity of the Home Depot to existing residential neighborhoods. At the City Council hearing, around 50 people showed up, and according to the Miami Herald, half of those in attendance were for Home Depot, half against. Some in the audience were wearing Home Depot caps and T-shirts. Hmmmm. You don’t suppose Home Depot put the squeeze on its employees to show up — as they have done in numerous other communities? Home Depot boasted that the Council vote not to send staff to the County meeting was a victory for the retailer. “They (the council) were leaning to oppose it,” said Home Depot’s real estate manager. “We really consider it a victory of them taking a neutral position.” The project is slated for a 10.5 acre parcel of land that is not commercially zoned, and is unincorporated property, which gives the County jurisdiction. The land was the location of 2 trailer home parks, and is currently zoned predominately.zoned for single and multi-family use. To appease local officials, Home Depot agreed to close the store at 10 pm, and accept deliveries from 7 am to 10 pm. The company’s real estate manager was quick to point out that Home Depot didn’t have to make these concessions, but did it “to appease the residents. It does hinder our business to some extent, but we are trying to be a good neighbor.”
Isn’t it amazing what a few Home Depot hats and T shirts can do to move a City Council? The homeowners in Keystone and San Souci bought their homes believeing that the property was zoned residential, and would not somday become a huge Home Depot To appease Home Depot, the county has to hurt the property investment of all the homeowners in surrounding area. Rezoning this land is not a right, but a privilege granted by the County. If Home Depot really wanted to be a good neighbor, they would ask the local neighborhood to vote on the project — and abandone the project if its was rejected. That’s what happened in places like North Olmsted, OH, where voters soundly rejected the rezoning of parcel E for a commercial use. Home Depot is supposd to help homeowners improve the value of their property, not diminish it.