Rezoning plans given for bigger Wal-Mart

Five homeowners would sell if the city approves the plan.
Friday, September 24, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:55 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

An attorney for the developers of a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter at Broadway and Fairview Road filed a rezoning application on Tuesday, setting in motion city officials’ consideration of the plan.

Attorney Craig Van Matre filed the application with the city’s Planning and Development Department on behalf of Broadway-Fairview Venture, the entity that controls the land, and the owners of five residential lots who have agreed to sell their homes if the city approves the rezoning request.

The application requests that the city rezone the open-commercial and residential land to allow a planned commercial development.

Although plans for a Wal-Mart on Broadway have been under discussion since February, the developers waited to request rezoning until a contract with owners of each of the five homes had been signed, Van Matre said.

“I think it’s long overdue,” he said. “It took a long time to get the people under contract that owned houses on the west side of the property.”

The developers plan to build a Wal-Mart on the property regardless of whether the City Council approves the request, Van Matre said. However, the council’s decision would affect the size and orientation of the store and the development of surrounding property.

If the council rezones the land, the developers intend to build a 204,000-square-foot store facing Broadway to the south, according to a plan submitted with the application.

If the city rejects rezoning, the developers would build a 180,000-square-foot store on that part of the land already zoned for open commercial development. The remainder of the lot, on the north side of the property running along Ash Street, is zoned for residential use and would be left undeveloped.

Developers prefer the first approach, saying in their application that it would reduce adverse effects on the surrounding neighborhoods. In addition, they note, planned commercial development gives the city more oversight and control over land use.

Residents of the Park De Ville neighborhood from the outset have opposed the plan to build a Wal-Mart on the land. The Park De Ville Neighborhood Association met Feb. 19 and voted against the Wal-Mart, prompting several meetings with developer Otto Maly.

The vote also spawned the formation of Community First, a group opposing a new Wal-Mart on Broadway.

Maly met with Community First leaders on Tuesday after the rezoning application was filed. The neighbors requested several concessions from the developer, who said he would address their concerns at a meeting planned for Wednesday, according to group member DeAnna Walkenbach. Leaders would then discuss the concerns with group members.

“Unless they can come up with huge concessions, we’re not going to be happy,” Walkenbach said.

These concessions include making an exception to Wal-Mart’s policy of 24-hour operation and constructing a smaller store occupying fewer lots.

City planners would not comment on whether they will recommend rezoning. In making its recommendation, the department will consider factors such as traffic, the scale of the development, what can be accomplished under current zoning and the advantages of planned commercial zoning, said Chuck Bondra, interim planning and zoning director.

Jerry Wade, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, declined to comment on the application before reading the staff report. Commissioner Karl Skala said that although he generally supports planned zoning over open zoning, he wants to hear some justification for more commercial development in the area.

“They’re going to have to convince me that increasing the area with planned development is to the benefit of the community,” Skala said.

The matter will be the subject of an Oct. 21 public hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission.

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