Archive for Saturday, June 2, 2007

Wal-Mart to submit new plans for store

June 2, 2007


Wal-Mart on Wakarusa issue back in City Hall

The Wal-Mart debate is headed back to City Hall and City Commissioners soon will have a new set of plans to review. Enlarge video

Wal-Mart will try again.

A developer that's working to bring a Wal-Mart to the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive confirmed Friday that the retailer will submit new plans for the city to consider, rather than immediately putting the project back in the hands of a judge.

"The goal from the very start of this situation has been for Wal-Mart to open a store," said Bill Newsome, who leads the development group that owns the property. "The goal isn't, and never has been, litigation."

Newsome said he and the other developers will submit plans for a Wal-Mart to city planners by next week. Newsome said the plan would include the same amount of retail space - approximately 100,000 square feet - that was proposed by Wal-Mart but rejected by the previous City Commission last year. Newsome said the site layout would be different - in response to suggestions from the city's planning staff - but said he couldn't go over those details until the plan is filed.

The new plans come after Wal-Mart and the developers agreed in April to a city request to delay the start of a trial in Douglas County District Court that was set to determine whether the city previously had illegally denied Wal-Mart a building permit.

The city asked for the delay in order to give two new city commissioners - Rob Chestnut and Mike Dever - a chance to weigh in on the Wal-Mart issue. Following the April election, Chestnut and Dever replaced two of three commissioners who had opposed the previous Wal-Mart plan.

Newsome said he hopes the plan will be considered by the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission in July, and will be heard by the City Commission shortly thereafter.

A trial - which could still continue if the new plans are rejected - is scheduled to start on Sept. 10.

The project has been opposed by many members of the neighborhood surrounding the site. They have said the store would create additional traffic that will cut through their neighborhood - an assertion that the developers have disputed.

On Friday, Harris Tate, president of the West Lawrence Neighborhood Association, said whether the issue is heard by the court or by the City Commission isn't of much concern to him. He said he just wants to make sure the neighborhood's issues are addressed.

"We know that corner is going to be developed with something," Tate said. "Our major concern is that it is designed with our safety and traffic flow concerns in mind."


Sigmund 11 years ago

Dumb move. Newsome and the City Commission are wasting everyone's time and money. Resume the trial and let the issue come to resolution in court, one way or another. Opponents of Walmart will never be happy and supporters don't care about the cosmetic changes in the size and layout of the store.

May Soo 11 years ago

I hope Wal-Mart get what they want. It's wasting too much money on the city to fight this.

armyguy 11 years ago

What is this? An WalMart story without the gang of 15 posting thousands of negitive comments. Wow.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years ago

I suspect that the reason your preemptive ad hominem attack is the first of the day is because the JW site was down until about an hour ago, armyguy.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years ago

There will be a very marginal increase in sales tax collections with whatever retail goes in at that intersection. But the question that needs to be asked, and this commission shows no inclination to do so, is whether those few tax dollars justify the traffic headaches that such development will undoubtedly create.

I agree with Sigmund-- let this go to trial. It might very well end up with Wal-Mart being allowed to put in a 200,000 sq. ft. supercenter, but the disaster that that would make out of NW Lawrence may be just the cautionary tale voters need so that commissioners who ignore zoning and planning documents as favors to their developer buddies (and political funders) don't get elected in the future.

coneflower 11 years ago

I already decided to put my house in NW Lawrence on the market because of this. I'm looking, hard, for a new one, as far away from this end of town as I can get.

Disgusted with this city's government, so easily purchased by the half-dozen moneyed families who control this town.

Godot 11 years ago

Coneflower, you might want to look in Oskaloosa. I hear the traffic is very manageable there, and shopping is almost non-existent.

blackwalnut 11 years ago

This issue should go to trial. There are too many unresolved questions and gray areas about the events that brought us to this point, and it all needs to be clarified in a court of law.

peppermint 11 years ago

There is another reason this needs to go to trial, even though I think WM would end up with the biggest store ever that way.

There is no way to avoid the appearance of impropriety if Sue Hack and Mike Dever vote on this issue - because of their business and financial relationships with Doug Compton, the landowner.

If there is a vote, Hack and Dever should refrain from voting. The development cabal still has the votes 2:1, so the outcome would be the same, but it would allow us citizens to believe there is no corruption in our city commission.

peppermint 11 years ago

I'm looking forward to Liberal showing up, in hopes that he might finally answer my question which I've posed to him twice before. It's an important hypothetical question, and since I have to suck it up and accept the ruin of my neighborhood, his answer could make me feel better about the whole thing.

peppermint (Anonymous) says:

Liberal: Can you guarantee no party to any land use proposal would put any kind of pressure on any city commissioner that would affect that commissioner's pocketbook one way or another? I'm not talking about exercizing their right as a constituent to express a view and ask for the commissioner's support which is legal and ethical. I'm talking about adding money to the mix, one way or another. Can you guarantee that a commissioner would refrain from voting on an issue if such pressure or such a conflict of interest existed?

coneflower 11 years ago

Godot: I'm actually considering a LOT farther away than that, even. Why live in a small town if the system is so corrupt it's impossible for a mere individual to participate in it?

KsTwister 11 years ago

b3: Bingo!!

At this rate it would almost cost less to rebuild the High School elsewhere and let a business with good Lawrence potential purchase it. But that is a costly alternative nonetheless.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 11 years ago

Coneflower, I hope you can sell your house soon in the distressed real estate market. We will not miss you. If you are really serious about this, it merely shows your stupidity, but I suspect this is just more political posturing. Anyhow, good luck and bon voyage!

Godot 11 years ago

Coneflower, how can you say you have not been allowed to participate? Participation does not always mean "getting your way," though you certainly have accomplished that for the last several years.

dthroat 11 years ago

Gloom and Doom - The Sky is Falling - I guess I just have to move away. What a bunch of "whatever".

Depending on where your house is in NW Lawrence you should have known before you built or bought that corner was zoned for BIG commercial developement. (Maybe WM wasn't mentioned, but the zoning was there.)

I see even the Neighborhood President has a grasp of realiity, by admitting that area IS going to be developed with something. If the neighbors are truely concerned with traffic and safety the best way to deal with that is WORK WITH the developers and planners. Maybe they would have some say on traffic patterens. By stonewalling EVERYTHING they will have something forced down their throats by the courts.

shorttrees 11 years ago

The question I would like to see answeres is "Why WalMart?" Why are Newsome and Compton so darn set on a WalMart? There are thousands of other companies and businesses that would be a good fit for the property, and a bunch of other places where WalMart could locate without a major problem (such as Tanger Mall area). So why are they so insistent on having a Walmart in that spot? What is their long range game plan? Why does it require a WM in that spot?

kshiker 11 years ago

Good riddance coneflower. Please take Bozo and Blackwalnut with you.

thusspokezarathustra 11 years ago

Coneflower, I guess if you can't take your ball & go home you can take your home & move away.

DaREEKKU 11 years ago

How sad that more people didn't run/vote in the last election. I didn't necessarily favor the incumbents but I was vehemently opposed to the people who ran against them. I don't feel that the new commissioners have the best interests of the city, as a coherent whole, at heart. It seems as if they favor the bigger businesses, ignoring all of the other factors. Sure, Wal-Mart has the most lawsuits pending against it than any other company in the country. Sure they cheat their workers. Sure they exploit labor...but on the flip side people in this town need jobs. That being said, shouldn't we strive for something higher? I would hope that more people in the community get involved in the decision because the decision that the city commission makes on this matter could set precedent for further development elsewhere in Lawrence.

Sigmund 11 years ago

We didn't sue Walmart, they sued us and being the largest retailer in the world it isn't surprising they would have the most legal cases pending. Following the law and allowing development isn't against Lawrence's broader interests, big business isn't defacto bad business, no one is forced to work for Walmart, and this isn't just about "jobs" as you simplistically suggest.

It's about allowing land owners to legitimately use their property in a lawful way. It's about capturing sales tax revenues being lost to the daily commuters who now shop in Topeka and KC because they don't want to waste the extra time and gas to get to south Iowa and then back home once they reach Lawrence. It's about increasing the value of the property and the amount of property taxes paid by the owner. Oh, yeah, and its about increasing the number of jobs and paychecks.

Don't you people ever tire of setting up simplistic straw men and then knocking them over? That is why this back and forth between the City and Newsome should cease immediately. Go to Court and have it decided one way or another. The things the opponents are asking of the Commission are beyond their legal authority or even capacity to deal with. Walmart either has the right to build based upon the law and zoning regulations or they don't.

In the next batch of zoning ordinances you can ask the city to include stuff like "only moral corporations shall be allowed to build" or "only businesses who don't cheat their employees shall be granted a permit." Good luck passing or enforcing that.

dthroat 11 years ago

DaReekku - I cannot fault your statements about WalMart not being a good employer and the lawsuits againxt them. AND, I personnally do not shop there so I am not a supporter.

BUT - they were legally authorized and then the city tried to change the rules - they win. ALSO - you make a point about people in this town need jobs. I agree.

What I don't agree with is the idea that "shouldn't we strive for more?" That seems to be the problem for the last several years (not just the past commission) in that we want to be "classy" and pick what jobs come to town. We don't want "blue collar" jobs, we want "executive" jobs. That is exactly why Lawrence has lost out on several big companies moving here. Eagle Outfitter is the first to come to mind, but I know there have been others. When will this city realize that executive level jobs aren't neccessarily needed - those people have work. It is the people who can actually fill the positions the blue collar employers are looking for that NEED the jobs. Did anyone think that if we let some of these employers in town, it might actually draw the other "higher end" jobs too.???

They might actually see that the answer in not automatically NO.

RKLOG 11 years ago

shorttrees (Anonymous) says: "The question I would like to see answeres is "Why WalMart?" Why are Newsome and Compton so darn set on a WalMart?"

It's obvious that Newsome and Compton are planning to build Weapons of Mass Destruction secretly hidden within the shell of the proposed "Walmart". I can't believe Bush hasn't allocated troops to stop them. Or perhaps he too is on Newsome and Compton's side. We are indeed doomed. I'm moving to Iraq so I can get some sleep.

kneejerkreaction 11 years ago

Let Walmart bring their ever-cheaper line of low quality products to Lawrence. They will be brought down eventually by their own business phliosophy of being always the lowest price. Lowest price = Lowest quality=Buy it twice. So, let them build the store.

auturgy 11 years ago

Watch Penn and Teller's episode of Bullsh*t about this particular issue. Your views might change.

greengoblin 11 years ago

Coneflower, there are plenty of other cities keepin' it real. Sounds like you've outgrown the confined corners of a small Kansas town. Once you leave you will look back at these posters and realize how incredibly small and ridiculous their lives are. Lawrence will never be the same town we all knew and loved twenty years ago. Time to move on.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 11 years ago

Coneflower, our neighbor is selling his house. It's the 3rd house that's gone up for sale in this neighborhood this spring, and the other 2 sold in less than a month. It's a great neighborhood. The west side apparently want this Wal Mart, because they voted in the commissioners who would approve it, so let them build it. They are paying so much for their houses anyway. WalMart is all they can afford. Of course they could pay a few dollars more for clothing, and it will last years instead of months, but they would rather say they got a deal at WalMart. Quality is not important.

Sigmund 11 years ago

Lawrence, like everything twenty years ago, was not as you remember it.

roger_o_thornhill 11 years ago

RKLOG's post makes me imagine Doug Compton and Bill Newsome as a Hank Scorpio types. That makes me laugh. Soon they'll be taking over the Eastern Seaboard.

greengoblin 11 years ago

Quality? How about the people in third-world countries sewing cheap clothing, slapping the name of a famous person on the label, and making twenty cents per week. All while working in filthy, extremely hot factories for 16+ hours per day, and living on rice because it is all they can afford. Sadly, Lawrence has begun to house more and more elitist Johnson County folk with their fancy, identical west-side houses, so of course they would vote to have a Wal-Mart in their hood, how could they be so superficial without it?

greengoblin 11 years ago

RKLOG, I hear you can get cheap tuition there, being that we are all already residents and all.

greengoblin 11 years ago

Sigmund, actually, the memory I have of Lawrence from twenty years ago is very firmly planted in my frontal lobe. I only hope there are intelligent people out there who will assist in preventing this country from becoming Generica!!!

Stu Clark 11 years ago

Did anyone notice that Walmart announced that it is going to cut back on expansion and devote more energy same-store sales? There are no details yet but this might make things even more interesting..

blackwalnut 11 years ago

CAclarks (Anonymous) says: Did anyone notice that Walmart announced that it is going to cut back on expansion and devote more energy same-store sales?

How could they possibly accomplish this? Answer: Killl off even more of their competition.

There goes the neighborhood.

Baille 11 years ago

Wal-Mart is a department store. I thought the area wasn't zoned for department stores

blackwalnut 11 years ago

dthroat: BUT - they were legally authorized and then the city tried to change the rules - they win.

Not true. Much misinformation about this. Let a court decide.

justthefacts 11 years ago

FACTS - does anyone know (admit) them, or is this totally a situation where it is a big policy or opinion fight?

There may never be a solution that will please all sides - there rarely is any more. However, I think a lot of the vitriolic rhetoric being thrown around these days (on this issue and others) points to a grown lack of civility. Being passionate and involved is a good thing. Being mean-spirited, constanstly anger, and hurtful towards others with whom you disagree are signs of a sick society. We wonder why the world seems so full of hate and wars - and then act as if anyone (everyone) who doesn't agree with us 100% is sub-human. If this lack of civility continues to esculate, fights over whether to allow Walmarts in our neighborhood will seem silly in a few years; we'll be trying to scrounge up enough water or or food to stay alive!

peppermint 11 years ago

Build a 200,000 foot store, now. No reason to sneak it in by enlarging the store every year. People won't believe it will be awful, & the traffic terrible, until they see it. The lazy voters who let this happen - who let an election be decided by a small part of the community, the realtors, developers and commuters - deserve this.

Governments become corrupt because people allow it.

peppermint 11 years ago

justthefacts says "FACTS - does anyone know (admit) them, or is this totally a situation where it is a big policy or opinion fight?"

It is an opinion fight over whether the city acted legally in denying Walmart where a Home Depot was once approved, and whether Walmart is a department store. I don't see how it can be determined except in court.

This paper has not done a good job of informing the public. Today, for example, they don't bother to provide the facts on how the corner is currently zoned.

pelliott 11 years ago

nformed (Anonymous) says:

Build the Wal-Mart! It will increase the sales tax revenue in town. How do I know? Because I shop out of town, where I work

You want them to build another walmart, even though you don't go to the one here but go to something out of town where you work. Planning to change jobs. point?

dthroat 11 years ago

Blackwalnut - I totally agree this should be decided in court. As Sigmund said earlier there is no solution that everyone will like.

I have said repeatedly that this needs to be decided in court. I have followed this entire process fairly closely and truely believe that the city did screw this up and will lose, but I could be wrong. I would accept either decision, but I would like it to come from the court at this point.

Again, I am not a WM shopper or supporter, but believe they got "screwed" by city politics. I would love nothing more than to see Wildgen and Finger and Torres under oath about this. I might actually take off work so I can hear it first hand instead of relying on the JLW reporting.

peppermint 11 years ago

dthroat: "I have said repeatedly that this needs to be decided in court. "

I agree and then both sides could more easily accept the outcome.

The city screwed up when they ever considered exceeding the 200,000 sf limit at the corner near the schools.

peppermint 11 years ago

dthroat (Anonymous) says: Depending on where your house is in NW Lawrence you should have known before you built or bought that corner was zoned for BIG commercial developement.

Depending on WHEN you bought your house, you mean! The entire 4 corners was limited to 200,000 square ft.

coneflower 11 years ago

If it is decided in court, people won't be blaming the city commission for the outcome. Because some on the commission have conflicts of interest it is the only ethical way this can be resolved.

Scott Drummond 11 years ago

Well, if nothing else, kudos to the propagandists at LJW for the picture that accompanied the article. The tight, colorful shot of the entrance to the 31rst Street Walmart, taken during the several minutes of sunshine in the last several weeks, sure conveys an uplifting image of the Wally World shopping experience, doesn't it? My experiences at the place usually involve several fun-filled minutes in the congested parking lot waiting behind the a quorum of the town's mentally deficient drivers as they practice their traffic calming exercise of trolling for that elusive parking space that will involve the least amount of walking for their cigarette-addled bodies. And I don't think I have ever seen the property without 10 or 20 plastic bags swirling around in the air. And, where's the surly 19 year old Topeka gangster wannabe and his obese 13 year old girlfriend hanging around the entrance? I don't think I have ever seen the entrance absent so much of the normal human waste. Yep, I have to hand it to the staff on this one, they actually make it look like a clean, upstanding place to shop, rather than the dingy, soul-damaging reality many of us know it to be.

So, let's even the score a bit with a little leftist propaganda from years past, that for some reason runs through my head every time I have to venture to the big W (what's up with so many bad connotations with W in the last 5-6 years?):

"Dear miners, they will slave you Until you can't work no more And what will you get for your labor But a dollar in the company store A tumbledown shack to live in Snow and rain pouring through the top And you have to pay the company rent And your payments never stop"

Walmart is nothing like the old company store, I am sure, many will howl. The edges, it is true, may be smoother, but go stand in any Walmart, open your eyes to see clearly and you can see how easily and quickly we could all be right back in that same old lot if the Walmarts of the world are given the free reign so many fools wish to give it.

KsTwister 11 years ago

EmJones : The "new" plan is for 100,000 s.f. The zoning states no single store can be more than 80,000 s.f. The zoning states no department store."

Unfortunately, the city classified Wal-mart as a "variety store" and May10 of 2003 the city stated;"Thus, officials reasoned, Wal-Mart is exempt from the prohibition."

badbrainstorm 11 years ago

I think the city is trying to gain one of those "green" Walmarts. It would fit right in with the hippies down the road.

denak 11 years ago

I shop at Wal-Mart. I will continue to shop at Wal-Mart. However, I can't help but be put off by the fact that these developers just won't go away! Why do we even need another Wal-Mart in this town. What population is not being served by the present Wal-Mart. If you live on the eastside, southside or the westside, you can pretty much get to the Wal-Mart within 10 mins give or take.

I'm with Shorttrees on this one. I have never heard one legitimately sound reason as to why we need to build that Wal-Mart there? Why do we even need another Wal-Mart. The one we have is good enough. The parking stinks sometimes but that is because people don't want to walk a minute or two extra so everyone tries to park the closest to the store. There is plenty of parking space just no one uses it all.

I think the Lawrence community has been very vocal in its opposition to this store and the developers should really just go away or find another type of store. Yes, I know that is not going to happen but really I am getting a little sick of them trying to force this store down our throats.


Godot 11 years ago

Dena, I am sure that any other business that might have had an inkling to open a store at 6th & Wak has long since moved on to a community that is more friendly to retail.

Crossfire 11 years ago

We can do better. How about instead of building a Wally World build an alternative to the "Big-Box" in the burb. A ground level of a complex dedicated to shopping, resturants, theatre and even a new library. Upper floors Condos, Apartments medical services ect. This could be a show place ot art culture commerce an a good place to live and work. This is a cool city. Do something cool.

Scott Drummond 11 years ago

"Dena, I am sure that any other business that might have had an inkling to open a store at 6th & Wak has long since moved on to a community that is more friendly to retail."

or, to put it more accurately, to a community where a handful of 4 or 5 real estate developers does not control all deals in town and where they might just get a fair shake.

blackwalnut 11 years ago

badbrainstorm (Anonymous) says: I think the city is trying to gain one of those "green" Walmarts. It would fit right in with the hippies down the road.

If you were well-informed you would know the WM at 31st and Iowa is a "green" Wal-Mart which means, apprently, some energy efficiency in the building (but ignores how un-green it is to ship materials to China and finished goods back again).

Do you breathe the same air the "hippies" breathe, and live in the same world?

You should be glad because

blackwalnut 11 years ago

scott3460 said: "or, to put it more accurately, to a community where a handful of 4 or 5 real estate developers does not control all deals in town and where they might just get a fair shake."

Well put, Scott.

Richard Heckler 11 years ago

**Just because speculators purchase property does not guarantee that construction will be allowed for it is NOT the duty of the taxpayer or local government to maximize profits for speculators. Speculating=gambling. Land speculators know these things.

coneflower 11 years ago

Liberal (Anonymous) says: Coneflower, can you guarantee that your past commissioners never took money under the table to squash Wal-Mart despite the fact WM followed all of Lawrences rules?

Of course not. How could I prove a negative? If you know something, cough it up. The public has a right to know.

(I'm trying to imagine who would have deeper pockets than Wal-Mart to give money under the table.)

altarego 11 years ago

Something Cool!!! Here's you something cool!!

I just hope and pray that the new Walmart plan will take into account the burgeoning community support for a Hooters as the in-store restaurant.

blackwalnut 11 years ago


I sure hope you get your Hooters! You seem like a nice person and you sure want it bad!!!

altarego 11 years ago

Blackwalnut!!! I knew you'd come around!!! Please to sign the petition when it comes your way.

Brugeoning, I say! BURGEONING!!!

altarego 11 years ago

offtotheright: Hooters will change your mind! Filthy white trash know how to party!!! See you there!!!

peppermint 11 years ago


Have you written Hooters to ask them to bring a store here?

Honestly, I've never been to one, but I think with 30,000 college students it would make millions for its owners.

Linda Endicott 11 years ago

Wal-Mart doesn't want litigation?

Please...Wal-Mart loves litigation...because they know they have endless pockets for attorneys and court fees, and most of the people or communities that they're fighting don't.

They just don't like to be told no.

The new plan? That comes with a threat? Approve this one, or you'll be sorry? shop out of town now, where you work? Then you would probably continue to shop out of town, where you work, even if they build a new Wal-Mart. And what's the problem? You can't find the Wal-Mart that's already in Lawrence?

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