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2006-11-23
Avondale, AZ. Wal-Mart Returns To Try Again

On September 14, 2005, Sprawl-Busters reported that the Planning & Zoning Commission in Avondale, Arizona had unanimously rejected Wal-Mart's application to build a superstore in town. "The type of store that Wal-Mart is, is not what we want for the entrance of Avondale," one Planning and Zoning Commissioner said at the time. The final vote of the City Council never took place, because the applicant, the Kitchell Corporation, withdrew its application for rezoning and site plan approval for the property. The Southwest Valley Republic newspaper noted that the Planning and Zoning Commission in Avondale did not have a hard time saying NO to Wal-Mart, and did so unanimously. The newspaper actually counted 30 rounds of applause during the 2.5 hour hearing on the superstore, as residents spoke out against the plan. The result, according to the paper, "just do anything but say yes to Wal-Mart." "The type of store that Wal-Mart is, is not what we want for the entrance of Avondale," said one Planning and Zoning Commissioner. But this month, Wal-Mart has returned for a second try at another nearby location. Sprawl-Busters received the following report from residents in Avondale: "You may recall the residents of Avondale successfully stopped Wal-Mart last year from getting approval for a Supercenter at Avondale Boulevard just south of the I-10. The plan was stopped luckily because there were rumors that a 4 star hotel wanted to locate onto an adjacent lot. So with the community's stern "NO" the proposal never made it through the whole zoning process. Well they waited long enough for us to fall asleep (obviously not) and they are back at it again. A friend of mine got a flyer in the mail the other day announcing a new proposed Wal-Mart at Avondale Boulevard north of the I-10. This location is 1 mile from last year's location but away from Avondale's dream "city entry" corridor and 2 miles from an existing Supercenter (also north of the highway and 2 miles directly west)." A spokesman for Wal-Mart said, "We're interested in a site there. It's still early in the process, but we are definitely interested." This time, the property Wal-Mart wants is zoned for commercial, C-2, which allows for virtually any type of retail, including Wal-Mart, said Avondale's city manager. The city says its oversight is limited to such things as traffic flow, design of the building, lighting and landscaping. "Those are the things they (the City Council) are limited to looking at. They can't deny the use itself, the city manager said. "I think it is important that people understand that because they may have expectations that the council can control things that they have no control over." There is an existing Wal-Mart store about two miles away, which the retailer is likely to shut down -- although the spokesman for Wal-Mart denied that the existing store would be closed. "I just don't think we need another Wal-Mart in Avondale," one opponent said. "How many Wal-Marts do we need?"

What you can do: The fact is, Wal-Mart has shut down hundreds of Wal-Mart discount stores, and often their spokesman denies there is any such plan. But then they shut the store down anyway. In this case, the cit iy manager has misled taxpayers by suggesting that just because land is commercially zoned, that Wal-Mart can build anything. The fact is, if the store is considered to be too big, and will generate too much traffic, the city can insist that it is too intense a use, and ask that if be reduced in size. The residents of Avondale should hire a land use attorney immediately, and stop listening to the city manager's bad advice. Big box stores have been fought and defeated, even on commercially zoned land. For earlier stories, search Newsflash by "Avondale."










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

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