Archive for Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Wal-Mart settlement plan approved

Both parties to reappear in court Oct. 27 to iron out details

April 25, 2006


A judge on Monday approved a settlement plan that promises to end a three-year legal battle between Wal-Mart and the city involving plans for a new store at Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive.

Following a brief hearing in District Court on Monday morning, Judge Michael Malone signed an order that halts seven lawsuits filed against the city since 2003 because of its refusal to issue a permit for the store.

In the next six months, Wal-Mart and 6Wak Land Investments, which owns the building site, will submit scaled-back plans for a store that are expected to meet the city's approval. On Oct. 27, the parties will appear back in court to iron out any issues.

"Hopefully they will be few and far between," Malone said Monday.

If all goes smoothly, the lawsuits would then be dismissed.

The last-minute settlement, reached Friday between the city and the developers, averted a trial that had been scheduled to begin Monday in Malone's courtroom.

"We appreciate the court's patience ... as we worked out the final details," R. Scott Beeler, an attorney representing the city, told Malone on Monday.

Under the terms of the settlement, the new Wal-Mart will be no bigger than 99,990 square feet, plus a 6,500-square-feet, open-air garden center. The city previously had rejected plans for a 200,000-square-feet store and a 132,000-square-feet store.

Wal-Mart agrees to pay two-thirds of the cost of a new traffic signal for Sixth Street and Congressional Drive. The total amount of commercial development on the northwest corner where the store will be situated will be capped at 128,000 square feet.


lunacydetector 12 years ago

i'm surprised the city commissioners didn't hold a pep rally at the 6th & Wakarusa intersection like at least one of them did during the city commission campaign.

it would've been the dada thing to do.

Rebecca Valburg 12 years ago

truthlawrence -

Should you get elected, I guess you would be guaranteed to look at least partially like a hero, since Wal-Mart has no plans anywhere to put in the "organic store" you plan on stopping. They are currently expanding their organic selections, just as HyVee and Dillons already have. Some people see this as a positive thing, since even if you hate everything else about the company, their interest in organics (as a result of the public at large's demand for organics) will encourage much more chemical-free agriculture - improving your environment, even if you don't shop there.

Rebecca Valburg 12 years ago

And props on the Roy Williams comment. That's hilarious.

lunacydetector 12 years ago

FYI - richard is the largest seller of organic foods in the entire world. since they are the largest seller of organic foods, wouldn't that put them in direct competition with the Merc (since two of the commissioners are involved in the Merc)?

jafs 12 years ago

I thought that that site had been slated to be a "New Urbanist" development called "Bauer Farm"?

bunnyhawk 12 years ago

I can't believe our city commission has permitted the building of another Wal-Mart. Particularly at an already seriously congested intersection.

Too bad the LJW doesn't do local investigative reporting. It would certainly serve the public interest to identify ALL the players who are profiting from this disgusting 'deal' and how much they are benefiting from Wal-Mart's full frontal assault on any and all local businesses.

I guess our city commission aspires to create another Johnson County with endless box stores and just above minimum wage jobs with no benefits. Wal-Mart is a parasite on our economy and its employees and no amount of recycling centers can change that.

KungFuLogic 12 years ago

I'm all for capitalism, but capitalism stands in stark contrast to what Wal-mart is and does to a lot of small towns. Capitalism represents the opportunity to compete. One flaw imbedded in the capitalistic system is the emergence of powerful monopoliies. Competition in some instances begetts prosperity which in turns ends up in an organization so powerful that you have a monopoly. One way to view a monoply is not from a micro level (national), but at a macro level (community). Relating to small towns, Wal-mart represents a macro-monopoly. They come in and have superior bargaining and purchasing power because of their national and international ties. The result is mid-sized and small-sized businesses are crushed. The way this happens is because of Wal-mart's corporate tentacles, they don't have to be profitable in every town, just a majority of towns. So Wal-mart in Lawrence can drive the small sized businesses to the brink and they don't even have to be profitable. That's a bad thing.

Like I said, I'm all for capitalism, but most importantly, I'm for competition. If you have one party that is so superior that they are competing at such a substantially superior advantage, that's not competition. Folks, its like the women's KU basketball team taking on the men's KU basketball team. What fair minded person would call that a competition (no disrespect to the ladies).

In the capitalistic view, the bottom line is a by-product of the heart and soul of the system. The heart and soul of the system is competition. History has demonstrated the oppression and corruption resulting when competition is taken out of the equation. Two Wal-marts in a town this size is a death sentence to entrepreneurism in Lawrence. That's a bad thing regardless of how cheap we can buy a rake for.

And for everybody berating the elistist rich snobs on the West side. Could it be that these are entrepreneurial people that have made it, and could it be they understand the necessity for guarding a competitive system? Maybe these folks are really justly defending everyone's right in Lawrence to pursue the American dream. Maybe they've put their money on the line and opened a business and sweat through difficult nights when sales were low; maybe these folks understand the ramifications of maintaining a competitive system. So why don't we cut each other some slack and try and understand someone else's point of view before throwing derogatory names.

Jean Robart 12 years ago

I look forward to not having to drive Iowa all the way to Wal Mart.

Lib_ee12 12 years ago

I plan on shopping everywhere but Walmart, like I do now. I don't like that the city of Lawrence can say which businesses are allowed and which aren't, that seems biased and corrupt. If I don't agree with a businesses practices and ethics, then I don't shop there. Hopefully everyone will follow those same methods and show Walmart that local success is far more important to the people of Lawrence. P.S. Location and convenience really shouldn't matter too much. Lawrence has a lovely bus service if gas prices are too high to shop at locally owned businesses.

justthefacts 12 years ago

For those new the area or who weren't watching this drama as it unfolded, the permission given to Walmart to build here was done years ago, by former city council members. That permission was alleged to have been in violation of then existing city codes etc., but it was given. And the fact that it was given gave the Walmart promoters a strong legal argument that their property rights were violated if later elected city officials tried to reverse the decision (after many $$ had already been invested in moving foward on that permission).

The current city council members may have thought and hoped to get the Walmart stopped. They tried to stop it. But faced with the high likelyhood that they'd lose the battle in court , they were forced to settle (for a smaller then originally planned Walmart). So if you really want to blame a city official for this result, in all fairness you need to go back to the original city council/planning commission that OK'd it in the first place.

Don't shop there if you hate the idea, for any reason. If enough citizens refuse to shop there, it will go out of the business eventually.

However, if more people like it then hate it (i.e. shope there and help make it profitable), well then.... welcome to democracy and a market economy...

lunacydetector 12 years ago

speaking of the empty bus service, i haven't noticed any extras hanging out at the bus stops around town. i bet the ridership hasn't increased at all. even with gas prices approaching $3.00 a gallon. just goes to show you how people will pay for their freedom.

...and to all the people who live around the 6th & wakarusa intersection who are against the new walmart, you should've checked the zoning for the surrounding area. if it says commercial, chances are it will get developed. perhaps your realtor should've disclosed that tidbit of info when you bought your house. it would've been the ethical thing for them to do.

KungFuLogic 12 years ago

I have never met a developer that didn't think they already had permission to go forward with a project, regardless of whether they actually had permission. It seems to be a chronic ego-centric narciccism that goes hand in hand with being a developer. Their tactics are manifest in what has unfolded in this debacle. They invest some money into property, and if they don't get approval to go forward from the City, they unleash their hit-squad of attorneys. Litigate into submission, along with terrible poor quality and bland development from Lawrences homebuilder association, that is one thing we can count on from these chronies.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago


If they moved there before this development was originally approved, they would have found zoning that prohibited a retail operation of the size that Walmart proposed.

Thankfully, this commission was able to get it scaled it back considerably from the project that the previous commission approved in direction violation of existing zoning requirements.

lunacydetector 12 years ago

ummm...just the facts....the city's definition of 'variety' store vs. 'department' store was completely opposite to the definition used by every other city in the united states. so the approval was the correct decision.

...the decision to stop walmart was based on how the yellow pages lists department stores and variety stores. not too smart to use the yellow pages as the basis for a decision.

let's say the code book doesn't allow a 'tavern' but it allows a 'bar.' so the city looks in the yellow pages to make their decision. of course everyone knows the yellow pages bases their listings on 'old english' so people will call 'information' since they can't find a listing in the yellow pages, and the phone company likes this because they get to charge for the call. pretty humorous if you think about the city using the yellow pages as the rule book.

lunacydetector 12 years ago

...and bozo, horizon 2020 was obsolete as it rolled off the presses. it never allowed for the population growth that lawrence experienced.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years ago

I see you're making sh*t up again in the face of any actual facts, Luny. Even Walmart calls itself a department store.

Maybe H2020 is obsolete, but you don't just ignore it just because your developer buddies bring in a project that directly violates it. If zoning documents don't count for anything, why even have them? Just let the developers do whatever the hell they want (and get more debacles like the NW sewer problem, and 23rd street.)

dex 12 years ago

one of the most successful corporations in the world is willing to invest time and $ into providing additional jobs and low prices on everyday products to lawrence. maybe a walmart job is not the kind of job that you, personally, want but i bet somebody wants (needs) it. just wait and see, people will queue up for job applications before opening day. go and tell the people in line that the low-wage jobs they're applying for stink. tell them to find somebody that pays a "living wage."

the same goes for low prices on everyday items (plus other stuff), not everybody is born with a silver spoon and i for one appreciate any opportunity to save a few $ here and there on the stuff i have to buy anyway so i'll have a little left over for the stuff i want to buy. besides, i never saw DVDs for $5 or a can of folgers for under $8 until walmart moved into my town. go ahead and turn up your nose at the working stiffs and the crap they buy at walmart because they can't even afford the used clothes at city-service subsidized shops downtown.

i have no idea what is so unethical about trimming profit margins accross the board in a never-ending drive to improve efficiency: it's the folks at the bottom that have the most to gain by a company with the resources and organization to trim the profit margin at every step of the supply chain. who does walmart put out of business anyway? junk stores? small town supermarkets? boo-hoo. why isn't anybody crying about the loss of the A&P grocery stores or the woolworths?

i'm glad wamart will succeed even when surrounded by ingrates because there are plenty of people who vote with their $ and don't have any to spare on idealist rhetoric found in forums like this or coffeeshops on mass.

lunacydetector 12 years ago

bozo, i didn't make up anything....i thought it was funny when the yellow pages were pulled out regarding what exactly walmart was classified.

also, i don't have any buddies in the development business. i don't even know any. i am a concerned citizen who has lived here for 40 years and i don't like the way the lunatic fringe of this community (the same ones who required the national guard to patrol the streets in the '70's) have taken over with their crazy ideas because the normal people are too busy commuting (to make a living) to get out and vote for sanity.

Rebecca Valburg 12 years ago

"FYI - richard is the largest seller of organic foods in the entire world. since they are the largest seller of organic foods, wouldn't that put them in direct competition with the Merc (since two of the commissioners are involved in the Merc)?"

Lunacydetector -

If you'll read the comment I was responding to, it stated that Wal-Mart would be opening an "organic store." Again, Wal-Mart certainly will be expanding their organic selections, but they won't be opening a strictly organic store. Organic foods generally cost more to produce, and a lot of Wal-Mart's customers will never buy them, so they're not going to completely switch over to organics. Yes, Wal-Mart will be in competition with the Merc, just as every other grocery store in town already is. The Merc however, offers a wonderful variety of locally grown and unique foods that are going to be impossible for Wal-Mart to carry corporately, and it's VERY difficult for individual stores to get corporate permission to carry items that aren't stocked through the main warehouses and vendors. Wal-Mart won't have the selection of items that the Merc has, either (I suspect they will have a similar offering as the newest HyVee out on sixth already offers). And a lot of the Merc's customers shop there because they DO believe in keeping their business local, and it won't matter what Wal-Mart offers. Wal-Mart's selections may hurt the Merc some, but they're going to primarily being attracting the consumer that isn't already buying just organic foods, but is curious and concerned about the health articles they've read. Wal-Mart will pull a lot of my business away from HyVee and Dillons (where I already buy some of my organics if I'm there already), but I'll still be a regular shopper at the Merc, and I suspect others will feel the same.

Rebecca Valburg 12 years ago

KungFuLogic -

I agree that it is VERY hard for small businesses to compete against large ones, but I'm curious as to how you would suggest this problem be solved. I don't remember exact dates offhand, but I believe that Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart and several other retailers that used to be big names all started within a very small time span of one another, and Sam Walton started out running stores for Ben Franklin, until he struck out on his own with one little store in backwater Arkansas. Fifty years ago, had you asked someone who the largest retailer today would be, it's pretty certain no one would have bet on one that didn't even exist yet. Do you suggest we limit entrepreneurs to one single location? Or that after a certain number of locations, they aren't allowed any more? Do we base it off of dollars? Or do you limit how many businesses one can start in a town? My hometown has 3,500 people living in it, really no major draws, and manages to keep a small supercenter and three grocery stores afloat. Is Lawrence really too small for two, then? And why did we allow so many Dillons stores to go in already if it was? The whole magic and allure of starting ones own business in America is that you might just have the winning idea, and if you do, you might be able to secure your wildest dreams and the financial futures of your generations to come.

ronin 12 years ago

It was my understanding that the city commission was going to get their a** kicked in court. They had no choice but to settle. Either that or keep trying to delay by spending more of our money.

It was a "no win" situation. At least that's what I heard.

justthefacts 12 years ago

Lunacy.... Re-read my comment: I did not say the permission was given in error or given in accordance with the codes at that time. I said "That permission was alleged to have been in violation of then existing city codes etc., but it was given." The fact is that permission to build was given. Right or wrong was not addressed in my comment.

And Kung Fu...right or wrongly given...the past city officials DID get give the Walmart developers the approval to proceed. And THAT is a fact.

That fact led to the legal impasse in which the current council found itself. They inherited the facts, promised some things that it turns out they did not (and proably could not) deliver on, and thus did what they could to scale the permission back a bit. If they hadn't reached and agreement, the city would probably have lost the law suit. If they had appealed that suit, and spent another $100,000 or so on legal fees, they could have prevented the building from moving forward a few more years or so. But, eventually (if it got all the way to the KS Supreme Court) an order to allow the original permit to be acted upon would have been entered. And possibly a ton of actual damages for the delay etc.

Again: Let the people decide by majority action.

If enough people oppose this company, or this particular site, they won't get enough customers to stay in business. Then the minority of people who miss having it can get used to its absence or move somewhere with more Walmarts.

On the other hand, if enough people like having this store where it is going to be built, then it will thrive.
And then, those in the minority who oppose(d) it can get used to it being there or can move to some place where they (and their views on what constitutes a good idea) are in the majority.

Lucky 12 years ago

How much money in legal costs has the City of Lawrence spent fighting WalMart in this 6th & Wakarusa zoning battle?

WalMart has a long history of forcing its opponents to incure large legal bills until they're financially exhausted in order to get what it wants.

It sounds like this is what might have happened here.

The citizens of Lawrence have a right to know how much was spent fighting this legal battle and if these legal costs were a factor in allowing WalMart to build this store.

yourworstnightmare 12 years ago

If you don't like Walmart, don't shop there. This doesn't mean that you can't use their recycling facility (suckers! What a maroon. Walmart is taking a bath on that recycling center. Delicious that all of those who despise Walmart take advantage of their free recycling center. yeah!).

yourworstnightmare 12 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Rebecca Valburg 12 years ago

yourworstnightmare -

Your previous comment is completely inappropriate and un-called for. The people there are the parents and grandparents of people in the community, and some of them are very kind, sweet individuals.

If you will recall, one greeter stood by the service desk, and one right before you exited. Neither stood in the entryway. And did it occur to you that perhaps the fact that hundreds of people tracked water onto the indoor-outdoor carpet in the entryway every time it rained caused the issue? You can complain that it wasn't cleaned to your specifications, but let's not throw hateful accusations at elderly people. I'll take a grubby kid yelling over an adult throwing inappropriate comments at un-deserving individuals any day.

Here's hoping for the karmic wheel to spin as you get older.

Rebecca Valburg 12 years ago

I think Marion is my favorite human on here. :)

Rebecca Valburg 12 years ago

While I may not always agree with him, I think Marion is my favorite human on here. :)

Terry Bush 12 years ago

I really don't understand the level of uncivil statements with regard to this issue. While strong feelings are fine (and evidently felt) why is it necessary to belittle and attack anyone who dares have an opposing view point.

Like the above commenter JTF stated, in the end the will of the majority of the people will prevail - the store in question will thrive or fail based upon where the majority of shoppers choose to shop.

Those who find themselves in the minority (either pro or con this store) and who do not approve of decisions made by others on where to shop may want to find a country state or city where the minority can nevertheless impose their will upon the majority.

gerbilsniper 12 years ago

How much tax payer money did the city commissioners waste on trying to prevent free enterprise? If you want antiques and bongs, go to mass street, otherwise move to the west end.

rsinger 12 years ago

Just another sign of how this "Liberal" town I used to love so much is bowing down to corporations and regulation. Noise ordinances, smoking bans, Borders, Walmart, Home Depot, the whole block of Gap. It happens to every small town that becomes popular. Big corporations come in and chase away the local businesses, it is inevitable. Just try to talk to somebody that has been in this town more than ten years and listen to the stories of how this town used to be a great place to live. Convenience isn't always better, you have to look at what you are sacrificing.

jafs 12 years ago

Marion, I disagree with your attacks on Progressives and Democrats, but will attempt to do so in a civil manner. Libertarians (of which you seem to be one) have a lot of faith in a free market, and would like to see government involvement and regulation end. Democrats and Progressives do not have this faith, and feel there is a need for regulation, particularly of large corporations. They believe that without such regulation, the powerful and wealthy will take advantage of the average citizen, and that government should prevent this from happening. History shows us in many times and places that the Progressives and Democrats may be more right about this than the Libertarians.

jafs 12 years ago

rsinger, why do you include noise ordinances and smoking bans in your list? These are reasonable attempts to improve the quality of life in Lawrence, and are not driven by corporate interests, as far as I can tell.

mztrendy 12 years ago

If everyone hates Lawrence and Walmart so much, why do you continue to live here? Oh right, so you have something to bitch about. If you don't like Lawrence, MOVE. If you don't like Walmart, don't SHOP there. If you don't want to pay 3 dollars for gas, don't BUY it. How hard is it?

Alison Smith 12 years ago

mztrendy - you got my vote....

and, well, growing up IS hard. We all go through many developmental stages (pun intended) but some times people stall out when it comes to personal responsibility.

jafs 12 years ago

Marion, are you serious? Do you really need a list of how the powerful and wealthy have oppressed/taken advantage of the weaker/average people?

jafs 12 years ago

Let's start with America today - as wealth has collected more and more in the hands of the very rich, high-paying jobs have been outsourced to other countries, and illegal immigrants are taking the lowest (below minimum wage) jobs, what's left for the average working and middle class Americans? Why is it that some years ago, 1 full-time job was sufficient to support a family, and now it takes 2, and often that is not enough without families going into much debt?

jafs 12 years ago

The Roman empire, the British empire, feudal Japan, the Soviet Union, ... the list would be extremely long if I were to try to name all of the examples of this. In fact, it's much harder to find counter-examples. Canada seems to take care of its' citizens fairly well, providing an interesting combination of socialist/capitalist ideas. But I can't think of many more.

lunacydetector 12 years ago

jafs, it takes two to support a family because women entered the workforce. businesses just spread the incomes out to be inclusive. just an opinion. a net result is men are living almost as long as women.

gr 12 years ago

'Who will be the first to say, "it's not a residential area"?'

It's not. It is a rural farm area.

At least it was - Until someone decided to put a residential area in the middle of farmland.

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