North Miami approves Wendy’s on 135th Street despite mock drive-thru protest

Eileen Bicaba’s North Miami home has bordered an empty lot for the last 25 years. Then a laundromat and Family Dollar were added and she was annoyed by noise and fumes. 

Now, she and a group of residents are protesting development of a Wendy’s drive-thru there.

“How, in God’s name, could you think to put something as high traffic and high impact?” Bicaba said. 

North Miami residents Tuesday night protested the city’s decision to approve the Wendy’s drive-thru on the corner of NE 135 Street and 3rd Court. They claim it will bring unwanted congestion, trash and chaos to their quiet neighborhood. The residents, dressed in white and red, demonstrated a mock-drive-thru around city hall, mimicking the traffic and congestion that would result from the fast-food restaurant. 

However, the North Miami City Commission approved the drive-thru in a 4-1 vote, with only councilman Scott Galvin against it.  

North Miami’s Board of Adjustment denied the request for the drive-thru back in Dec. 18, 2018, saying the development lacked adequate parking, would increase traffic and would further inconvenience neighbors. An appeal was filed a month later. 

Rather than the Zoning Appeals Board handling the decision, the city commission stepped in — a decision some residents found suspicious. 

Vice Mayor Carol Keys shut down residents’ concerns. “I don’t see anything really substantial,” she said. 

The North Miami residents exited the building in a slew of discontent remarks. They say the fight has yet to be finished. 

“No matter what happens, the fight isn’t over,” said Bicaba. “We’ll go down punching.”

Story by Tamica Jean Charles, video by Imogen Francis

Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, Imogen Francis now studies journalism at Florida International University. She was a staff news writer at the student newspaper PantherNow and has experience writing about the LGBTQ community, women's rights and politics.

Originally from the southwest coast of Florida, Tamica Jean-Charles is a journalism student at Florida International University. When she graduates she hopes to cover culture and urban communities for a big city. When she is not working, Tamica loves to attend local concerts and source out the best Haitian food in South Florida.