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2005-09-22
Twin Falls, ID. Wal-Martís 24 Hour Plan Gets Nixed

Wal-Mart has gotten an approval to build in Twin Falls, Idaho -- but it won't be open all night. The City Council voted 4-2 to reject a special use permit for a 24 hour business. The Council's vote affirmed an earlier vote by the city's Planning and Zoning Commission. The project's neighbors testified against the all-night store. The Twin Falls Times-News quoted the head of the Los Lagos Subdivision Homeowner's Association as saying, "We need peace and quiet. What we do not need is 24-hour retail. We do not need the semi-trucks going in and out. We do not need the lights, and we do not need the public address system blaring out every night." Wal-Mart tried to convince city officials that the retailer was being sensitive to neighbors by having the store face to the south away from residential areas, fitting the parking lot lights with shields to direct light down, directing traffic away from homes, and not allowing the public address systems to be used in the parking lot. "These are things we are offering up to be good neighbors," a Wal-Mart spokesman said. "There are other stores in Twin Falls that are open 24 hours -- we're asking for a fair business opportunity to do that." But in the end, the City Council refused to let Wal-Mart stay open 24 hours, and the company agreed not to appeal that decision, Neighbors told us that the city misled them when it first rezoned this parcel from residential to planned unit development Neighbors say they were told that the land would be used for a "quiet little business park with bike trails."

What you can do: Superstores and residential homes do not mix. The term "Good Neighbor Superstore" is an oxymoron. A growing number of communities are regulating overnight hours for big box retailers like Wal-Mart -- especially when they abut residential property. Most communities have no ordinance that addresses this issue. For a sample ordinance to regulate retail uses next to residential uses, contact info@sprawl-busters.com. Sometimes Wal-Mart threatens to sue a town over this 24 hour issue, but if push comes to shove, the company often accepts the limited hours and moves on. See the story on West Des Moines as a recent example. For earlier stories on this topic, search by "24 hours".










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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