Archive for Monday, July 23, 2007

Commissioners approve preliminary Wal-Mart plan

July 23, 2007

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Planning commissioners tonight unanimously approved a preliminary development plan for a controversial Wal-Mart at the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive.

After hearing about one hour of public comment - almost all against the project - planning commissioners on an 8-0 vote agreed to recommend that the City Commission approve the project.

Planning commissioners said they're weren't swayed by much of what the public had to say because many of the comments were about the quality of Wal-Mart as a business. Planning commissioners said they didn't think that was appropriate for the city consider.

"Nobody is forced to buy there and no one is forced to work there," Planning Commissioner Tom Jennings said. " We act like it is going to be indentured servitude out there. If no one wants to go into the front door or the back door, it won't be there long."

Members of the public brought up concerns ranging from Wal-Mart's health benefits and wages. Others, though, said approving the Wal-Mart project will cause other businesses to go out of business because the city is already overbuilt from a retail standpoint.

Neighbors also expressed concern that the development will cause additional traffic in their neighborhoods. But engineers with the city told planning commissioners that they were confident that Sixth Street could handle the additional traffic. The engineers presented new traffic models developed by the Kansas Department of Transportation that looked at the Wal-Mart proposal and other planned developments along the Sixth Street corridor.

Comments

karensisson 7 years, 8 months ago

No surprise there. Mayor Sue Hack is owned by Doug Compton, because her husband gets insurance business from Doug Compton's properties. Hack even told a voter that Compton had threatened to take his business away depending on how she voted. The other commissioners are on board with the whole bought-and-paid-for pro-developer Lawrence-be-damned agenda. This is just the beginning.

Congratulations, non-voters. Your apathy let the special interests take your town.

blackwalnut 7 years, 8 months ago

Lawrence just got uglier.

The next election cannot come fast enough.

coneflower 7 years, 8 months ago

"Planning commissioners said they're weren't swayed by much of what the public had to say ..."

There you go. What the taxpayers want is of no importance to these people.

At least this will bring about a better turnout at the next election.

Brandon Graham 7 years, 8 months ago

I seriously can't believe the level of ignorance and amazing stupidity of those posting on these boards. What statistics and facts do you use to come up with the accusations that are made on this thread? If Wal-Mart and any other business that is not locally owned are all bad, why do they do so well? I have no problem paying $14 for a hammer from the hardware store downtown instead of $9 at Home Depot for the same thing, because I can. I work hard, always have, and I choose to do that from time to time. Many can't do that same thing or don't want to...because it doesn't make economic sense.

Why is it that so many of you are anti-development? Don't you idiots realize that at one time the houses or apartments you live in were "developed" and the places and buildings you work in were "developed" and that you're way of life is possible because someone that works harder than you and is smarter than you took some risk and built something that wasn't there before? Downtown lawrence was developed...it just happened to be a long time ago. If it was never developed, you wouldn't have anything to whine about being protected. If small businesses don't work hard and market and compete with bigger businesses, then they will go under...that's life. If you want to stop it, then work there for free, shop there, and make sure everybody you know shops there.

I own a small business and have sold another one. I didn't pay benefits for employees with the previous one, and don't now. I can't afford it. If I, or any other business, paid for all the things that you morons think is right, then your beer would cost $8.50 a pint at Free State to cover every part time worker's benefits. I wish I could pay for them, but I can't...I still have a stack of applications an inch thick and Wal-Mart's will be a foot thick. Stop whining and go figure out a way to put them out of business or come up with something better. Good luck.

werekoala 7 years, 8 months ago

Dogs and cats, living together, it is the beginning of the end for our fair city. . .

Or maybe, just maybe, it is the beginning of the realization that residential taxes do not pay for the cost of providing services to those areas, and that additional business growth is essential to maintaining the high level and quality of city services that has made Lawrence such a great place to live.

As much as you or I might wish the world were different, not every business can pay $30K/yr starting salary with excellent benefits for unskilled labor. Especially when that business' model is based on price, price, price.

And trust me, I hear you about the desire for locally-owned businesses to be able to compete. But unfortunately, that's not going to be solved by tilting at the windmill that is Wal-Mart. If you want to pass a local minimum wage, fine. If you want to lobby nationally for universal health care, or better protection for US workers, I'm completely behind you. But pretending as if you can stave off global forces by throwing tantrums about a local development, while emotionally satisfying, is ultimately counterproductive.

A more adult approach would be to say - hey, we're way over-built in residential spaces, so much so that many of our residents work in different communities even though they would rather live here, because it's such a great place. Let's all pitch in and try to attract high-paying employers as well, to offset local sales tax shortfalls, and better prepare us for a less-mobile future when gas is $5 a gallon.

Don't get me wrong, I feel the stifling conformity and bland winding roads of west lawrence are a bit of a blight, but for better or worse, it's OUR blight. Why not band together and try to strengthen our local economy? And oh by the way, let's also work hard to remove obstacles to local businesses' ability to compete such as health care costs and unfair trade practices. Maybe after all that hard, productive labor we'd see what a needless distraction this whole Wal-Mart debate has been. Personally, I think we as a community have bigger fish to fry.

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