Wal-Mart is back at City Hall.
City commissioners tonight are scheduled to vote on plans related to Wal-Mart's proposal to build a store at the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive.
Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners unanimously recommended approval of the project last month. If city commissioners approve the project, it would mark the end of an approximately five-year battle by developers to build a second Wal-Mart in the city.
The project may finally have the support it needs on the City Commission. Plans for a Wal-Mart were rejected by a previous City Commission; the project sparked a lawsuit by developers who contended the city illegally denied a building permit for the store. But the lawsuit was put on hold shortly after the April City Commission elections.
Following the elections, only one of the three city commissioners who had opposed the project remained in office. The new City Commission asked the developers to put the lawsuit on hold and submit new plans for the Wal-Mart.
Mayor Sue Hack and Commissioner Mike Amyx both voted for the previous Wal-Mart plan. The plans before commissioners tonight are slightly different - a 24-unit apartment complex that was slated to be adjacent to the store has been replaced by open space - but Hack indicated she still likes what she's seen.
She said a new report from the city's Public Works Department and the Kansas Department of Transportation, detailing how Sixth Street would function with the store in place, was encouraging.
"To me it says that the streets in the area are still going to be able to do what they were designed to do," Hack said.
Commissioner Boog Highberger, who voted against Wal-Mart's previous proposal, said he still had concerns.
"I still think traffic is a legitimate concern, and I still think the impact on our existing retail is a legitimate concern," Highberger said.
Commissioners meet at 6:35 tonight at City Hall. Hack said she'll likely limit the amount of time for public comment on the Wal-Mart issue to about one hour.