Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Wal-Mart proposal hits another roadblock

Planning Commission divided, but city could still OK Sixth St. plan

September 1, 2006


And you thought this was a done deal.

Despite a legal agreement between the city and developers wanting to build a new Wal-Mart in northwest Lawrence, it became clear Wednesday that the project is anything but settled.

Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commissioners early Wednesday morning failed to give plans for a new Wal-Mart at Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive a positive recommendation. Commissioners split 5-5 on the plan after debating the project for about five hours Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning.

"I think we're losing sight of how much traffic will be generated by this project," said Planning Commissioner John Haase, who said he sided with neighbors who were concerned that the project would cause traffic to begin cutting through their neighborhoods. "This is a major automobile magnet."

The split vote by planning commissioners, though, doesn't kill the controversial project. It just adds an extra dose of uncertainty, and perhaps time, to the project.

City commissioners still have final authority to approve the project, but because it didn't receive a positive recommendation from the Planning Commission, it must receive four votes from the five-member City Commission to receive immediate approval. If the project only receives three votes, then it must be sent back to the Planning Commission to be debated again. Following that debate, regardless of the Planning Commission's action, the City Commission can approve the development with three votes.

Whether city commissioners will support the project - which proposes a 99,985-square-foot Wal-Mart and four other commercial buildings on the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive - is an open question. City commissioners largely said Thursday that they were waiting to read the Planning Commission minutes and receive other information about the development. The project likely will be debated by city commissioners in the next several weeks.

City commissioners have a long history with the project. The development was the subject of a series of lawsuits in Douglas County District Court. The developers claimed the city illegally denied a building permit for a 132,100-square-foot Wal-Mart store, but the city countered that there were conditions on the zoning of the property that disallowed the discount retailer.

A resolution appeared to be near, though, in April when the two sides signed a legal agreement putting the lawsuits on hold while Wal-Mart submitted its plans for a smaller store. City attorneys have long stressed the agreement was not a "settlement." Instead, the agreement only put the lawsuits on hold while the new project sought approval.

City attorneys reminded planning commissioners of that point Tuesday.

"I want to make it clear that the fact we have entered into an agreement does not mean this project comes with an endorsement from the City Commission," said interim City Manager David Corliss, who also is the city's director of legal services. "The applicants are here and must follow the same procedure as everyone else."

The settlement, however, does state that the city agrees to the size of the new Wal-Mart store and the surrounding buildings.

If the project ultimately is not approved by the City Commission, Wal-Mart won't need to file any new lawsuits. Instead, they'll be able to simply ask the court to restart the existing suits, which were just days from trial when the agreement was reached in April.

If Wal-Mart were to win those suits, the company would be free to build a much larger store on the site and add more additional retail businesses around the store. The current plan Wal-Mart seeks approval for includes 128,000 square feet of retail space on the corner. The plan that is part of the lawsuit that Wal-Mart could choose to restart would allow for 154,000 square feet of retail space.

Angie Stoner, a spokeswoman with Wal-Mart, said it was premature to comment on what Wal-Mart might do if its current plan is denied. She said the retailer was focusing on winning approval from city commissioners for its new plan.


KS 11 years, 8 months ago

Well, I would not use the word "hate", but I don't and won't shop there. I don't like Dillons either and their "two price" system, so I just drive on by to Hy-Vee.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

This proposed store will be approved by the city commission, but its approval will have nothing to do with the appropriateness of the design or the ability of the intersection to handle the traffic that is generated, which in a sane world would be the major considerations for both the planning and city commissions.

It'll be approved because of the endless deep pockets of Wal-Mart that they will continue to use to bludgeon the city with extortionist legal tactics until they get their way.

Jay_Z 11 years, 8 months ago

It'll be approved because whether you agree with it or not, Wal-Mart was granted a permit to build there.

Jake Esau 11 years, 8 months ago

Why don't they just move the proposed Wal-Mart out to the intersection of 6th and the bypass... I think it'd be a lot more accepted there.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

"It'll be approved because whether you agree with it or not, Wal-Mart was granted a permit to build there."

Yes, corrupt former city and planning commissioners ignored H2020 provisions to approve the building of a store there, which is the loophole that Wal-Mart and its developer allies are using to bludgeon this city with to get its way.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

"Why don't they just move the proposed Wal-Mart out to the intersection of 6th and the bypass... I think it'd be a lot more accepted there."

Probably because Doug Compton doesn't own it.

Tychoman 11 years, 8 months ago

Amen, bozo, on both your points. You too, logrithmic.

truthlawrence: you are the epitome of a troll.

staff04 11 years, 8 months ago

My hometown had six local, family owned grocery stores and a thriving historic downtown shopping district when I was growing up.

Now, it has a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

I would hate to see Wal-Mart do that to the finest city in the Midwest.

GardenMomma 11 years, 8 months ago

I thought the new plan put this Wal-Mart at 98,000 square feet and now I'm reading 99,000 sq.ft. Was there some error in how big this Wal-Mart will be? Granted, 1,000 sq.ft. really isn't much in the scale of this Wal-Mart, but .... let's be truthful, is it 98 or 99 thousand square feet or maybe, by the time all's said and done, 135,000 square feet????

Linda Endicott 11 years, 8 months ago

Wal-Mart won't give up, it's done this in many, many other towns in other states, and it seems they usually win.

Personally, if I owned a business and I got that much flak about building in a particular city, I'd just go somewhere else to build.

Wal-Mart just doesn't like to be told no, and it will tie this issue up in litigation until your grandchildren are paying for the court costs, if it has to. They won't stop until they get their own way.

conservative 11 years, 8 months ago

Momma, I've never seen 98,000 but might have just missed it in one of the articles. The agreement to halt the lawsuits was that it needed to be under 100,000 square feet, and the number I've seen was 99,985 in several articles.

Fatty_McButterpants 11 years, 8 months ago

Man, it would tickle me silly if all of these neighborhood "activists" (see: pain in the rear) were to fight this smaller Wal-Mart and then, they restart their lawsuits, win, and then get to build a friggin' Wal-Mart metropolis there. Keep it up guys!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

While I wouldn't be "tickled" to see a the mega-sized Wal-Mart built in a location that is unsuitable for any department strore, I agree that the neighborhood activists would better serve their interests by concentrating on next year's city commission elections.

They need to make sure that corrupt commissioners whose only allegience is to developers are not returned to control of the commission. Hack and Amyx would only need one more vote to be allowed to reveal their true allegiences.

wbob 11 years, 8 months ago

Log, while you're "caring for one's neighbor," please stop caring for me. I certainly don't need you looking out for me, telling me how I should live.

Kontum1972 11 years, 8 months ago


come on people.....LoL.... then the city will hire some cronie to try to solve the traffic problem in that area....

speaking waste of money...ever figure out why the city water department sticks those mulit-colored flyers in your water bill?.....anyone in the printing business want to take a shot as to how much a project like that costs the city...figure everyone gets a water bill in the city....they are printed front and back....this not cheap,... "keemo sabee".... whose bright idea was this?.....i wanna see a show of hands as to who has read the flyer....? I know this is not produced for free or a perk from the city.

Herynkmom 11 years, 8 months ago

Couln't agree with you more, logrithmic.


Herynkmom 11 years, 8 months ago

Ok, checking to see if I am no longer ANONYMOUS. Does anyone else agree with me about these posts: what we say should carry our names. Obviously people care about these issues but don't seem willing to identify themselves with their opinions. Pro or con (Wal-Mart), I respect people who take a stance and sign their name. What good does it do to send out opinions in a "virtual" world? These are real issues in real time in the real world.

Sue Herynk

Richard Heckler 11 years, 8 months ago

Wal-Mart does not always win. Lawrence will not die without two Wal-Mart stores. Some of the small stores around the site would probaly have a better chance of survival without Wally world which is something to consider since they put their money,employees and effort on the line.

The more Wally World's the fewer choices for consumers cuz all there is what Wally World thinks you should buy in low end merchandise. The same choices in every store. Of course that is the consumers perrogative.

Is low end merchandise the best dollar value?

Kontum1972 11 years, 8 months ago

LoL...Sue..let us know know many flaming bags of dog p**p end up on your front porch....?

Herynkmom 11 years, 8 months ago

Hey, Kontum, can't you feel the love in this community? No worries!

Free world, free speech.


Herynkmom 11 years, 8 months ago

Well, small correction:

Free country, free speech.

Tychoman 11 years, 8 months ago

Pilgrim you are without a doubt one of the rudest, unprofessional, cold posters on this forum.

Shut up. Don't bother putting up anymore. Just shut up.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

"Put up or shut up, clown. Name names and specific charges."

It would not have been approved without a vote, so I refer specifically to those who voted for it, knowing full well that it violated both the letter and the spirit of H2020.

I suppose I could look up the names, but at this point it's moot, unless they intend to run again, or they are nominated for a position on the planning commission.

Candidates for city commission next time around most certainly should be asked what their position is on the vote that led to this debacle.

But I'm sure that you will likely vote for any candidate who says they will ignore the primary planning documents created by the city and county if it gets in the way of the movers' and shakers' moving and shaking.

walleye9898 11 years, 8 months ago

Just what we don't need -- another Walmart! Just drive out to the monstrosity at 33rd & Iowa.

What we do need is a Dick's Sporting Goods or better yet a Bass Pro Shops.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

Here is the planning commission agenda wherein the development was approved, FYI.

Sigmund 11 years, 8 months ago

Start up the Lawsuit! After the PLC loses and has to pay legal fees this time it will be great to see the two PLC Kommissioners who work at the Merc explain their participation and CONFLICT OF INTEREST to the electorate. Also, I really want to hear what Wilgren would have to say!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

"the two PLC Kommissioners who work at the Merc"

Only one commissioner works at the Merc, but don't let the facts get in the way of your mindless ranting.

lunacydetector 11 years, 8 months ago

the only people complaining about walmart are the people who weren't smart enough to check and see what kind of zoning was near their homes, and of course, the downtown weirdos.

horizon 2020 was outdated the day it was printed.

...and bozo, doesn't one commissioner work at the merc, while another is or was recently on the board of directors? is being a paid member considered a shareholder? just curious.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

Given that neither of those commissioners has any demonstrable anti-Wal-Mart bias in their actions on the commission, the whole thing is nothing more than a distraction from the real conflicts of interest that characterized the commission for decades. The fact that this issue confronts us today is a prime (and let's hope vestigial) example.

lunacydetector 11 years, 8 months ago

is that why they gave speeches at the 6th & Wak location proclaiming to fight walmart during their campaign, or am i misinformed?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

"Wal-Mart isn't going away, and neither am I. Get over it."

Get over it? Not likely-- we'll just learn to live with it like any other incurable chronic affliction.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

That was really sweet of them to wrong a song to you, Pilgrim.

Tychoman 11 years, 8 months ago

Aw that's cute. Pilgrim likes The Eagles. Yet another message. It's so nice to get messages from people in my own hometown that if I don't like it I should leave, that people like myself aren't welcome. But no I just feel sorry for them when they actually WANT their town to turn into a bedroom community that doesn't put out money of its own, to depend solely on its wealthier residents. To those of you who want another WalMart because you don't want to drive 10 miles (boo f-ing hoo), move to JoCo. Stop turning our town into your little idea of West Overland Park because that's exactly what it's turning into.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

So this is where I'm supposed to say I'm rubber and you're glue, so everything you say bounces off me and sticks to you.

Gee, Pil, I just love that game. Thanks for playing with me.

Tychoman 11 years, 8 months ago

Pilgrim just loves to play with everybody.

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