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Archive for Friday, February 7, 2003

Wal-Mart issue rings at unlikely meeting

February 7, 2003

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The ongoing debate about a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter at Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive flared up Thursday in an unlikely setting -- a hearing on a church bell tower proposed for halfway across town.

Todd Thompson was testifying on his own behalf against St. Lawrence Catholic Center's request to build a 55-foot bell tower in his neighborhood near the Kansas University campus.

Board of Zoning Appeals member Jason Fizell challenged Thompson, an attorney whose clients include Wal-Mart. Fizell wanted to know what the difference was between neighbors of a church opposing a tall bell tower and neighbors opposed to a big Wal-Mart store.

"I think that question is inappropriate," Thompson replied. But he responded that, unlike the neighborhood around St. Lawrence, there are no homes directly adjacent to the Wal-Mart property.

"I was trying to be provocative," Fizell said. "I was just trying to make the point that, depending on what side of the aisle you're on, it can be a very different situation."

The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission will consider the Wal-Mart proposal Feb. 26.

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