To the editor:
I thought the Planning Commission hearing on a second Lawrence Wal-Mart was a travesty, but the City Commission topped it. The general sentiment expressed by the public was 7 to 1 against the proposal, yet it passed.
All those who spoke against the project did a good job of addressing the range of reasons not to proceed. One resident presented specific citations from Horizon 2020 and other official city planning documents, pointing out where the Wal-Mart plan does not comply. There was a detailed set of concerns about traffic problems left out of the city/Kansas Department of Transportation analysis, or misrepresented by it.
Expert testimony illustrated the overdevelopment of retail space compared with growth of retail demand (as measured four different ways), and the resultant negative impact of such an imbalance on the well-being of the community. References to the generally low-quality jobs Wal-Mart typically provides were made, along with information about public costs created because the giant retailer's employee health plan is so inadequate. Grassroots Action presented a scientifically conducted survey showing that residents of Lawrence oppose a second Wal-Mart for the city by a margin of 2 to 1, and calling for a public referendum to settle the issue.
Out of all this material, with the exception of Commissioner Boog Highberger, our governing body apparently ignored all but the traffic issues. They didn't even ask a question, despite the very grave implications presented for the future of our community!
Lawrence should demand better of its leadership.