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2008-03-05
Rapid City, S.D. Wal-Mart Pulls Plans For “Unknown Reasons.”

What made Wal-Mart rapidly withdraw its plans this week from Rapid City, South Dakota? Did they sense their plan was going down in flames? Sprawl-Busters reported on February 24, 2008 that the Planning Commission in Rapid City had acted swiftly to turn down Wal-Mart's request to have a small piece of land rezoned as part of their plan to add a second supercenter to the city. The Planning Commission voted 6-2 to keep the land zoned park forest, instead of general commercial. Wal-Mart needed this little piece of land to make its 79 acre shopping center a reality. The Rapid City Council was going to get the final say on the rezoning at its March 3rd meeting. This process to permit the second Wal-Mart has been going on since October of 2006 -- so after almost a year and a half, the rapid response Wal-Mart wanted has long since faded away. In fact, Wal-Mart started off with this project three years ago, at a different location along Highway 16. The original site was taken to the voters of Rapid City, who voted in a referendum to approve the second supercenter. But Wal-Mart had to withdraw its plans in July of 2006, because one abutting property-owner, an orthopedic center, refused to grant the store a small easement for a road behind the store. Without the easement, the project died. But the developer bounced back with a second site in December of 2006. The developer called this new asphalt and concrete sprawl the Dakota Canyon Market Place. The shopping center would actually sit on a hill, overlooking land set aside as the "Dakota Canyon Nature Preserve." Neighbors to this out-of-scale project in the Enchanted Hills subdivision testified that the project would generate too much traffic, harm property values, and disrupt their residential quality of life. Homeowners in Enchanted Hills did not want to live beside a store almost the size of 4 football fields, which would be lit up and open all night long. This week, neighbors found out that they might not have to put up with this project at all. The Rapid City Journal reports that two Wal-Mart planning and zoning items were removed from the city council's agenda at Wal-Mart's request for "unknown reasons." When one Enchanted Hills neighbor heard that Wal-Mart had pulled it plans, for now, he replied, "I'm not going to come tonight. I think it would be a three-hour meeting for no reason. I think, for the time being, we'll just wait until we hear something more. I'd be just as happy if they stuck a Kohl's up there, and this went away."

What you can do: Because of this pullout, other site related variances that were supposed to come before the Planning Commission were also postponed by the city until late March. The developer, Whittinham & Lestrange, has not issued any statement on the cancellation. People in Rapid City have no more than a one or two mile drive to the existing Wal-Mart supercenter. A second superstore adds no value to the city. In fact, the second store will merely compete with the first, and have a negative impact on other area grocery stores. According to Rapid City Mayor Alan Hanks, "Rapid City is a vibrant and growing community of 60,000 progressive citizens." Readers are urged to email the Mayor and the City Council at: councilgroup@rcgov.org with the following message: "Mayor Hanks and Council, I don't know why the Wal-Mart application has been pulled, but I can say that the proposed location couldn't be worse. I urge you to follow the vote of the Planning Commission and reject the Wal-Mart rezoning, and keep that parcel zoned park forest. You don't need more suburban sprawl. All another supercenter will do is compete with the first, and force more existing grocery stores to close. You have more than 4,300 people employed in retail trade, about 15% of your workforce. Adding more big box stores will not create new jobs -- just shift sales from existing cash registers. Support your Planning Commission if this rezoning vote ever returns to the Council. But let's hope its truly dead and gone."










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

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