Sprawl-Busters Newsflash Blog - Anti-Sprawl news since 1998.
Subscribe to Sprawl-Busters Blog Follow Sprawl Busters on Twitter
Occupy Walmart & Order Al's Books Movies Newsflash! The Case Against Sprawl Home Towns Not Home Depot Victories Your Battles About Us Contact Us  

recent news

List articles
by the month:

2018
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2017
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2016
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2015
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2014
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2013
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2012
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2011
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2010
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2009
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2008
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2007
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2006
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2005
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2004
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2003
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2002
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2001
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2000
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

1999
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

1998
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC


Search database by text:

2008-05-22
Zionsville, IN. Wal-Mart Suffers Second Rejection

Two strikes and you're out. Wal-Mart has been rejected twice in the small town of Zionsville, Indiana (pop. 12,500). This is a community that boasts of its "fabled brick street" and shops "from upscale and uniquely fashionable to rare and vintage antiques." The tourist appeal of Zionsville is a downtown with "fine restaurants and quaint cafes" and its "peaceful, tree-lined streets (which) are a picture perfect reminder of a bygone era, of a quiet time still cherished by Zionsville residents." Just twenty minutes from downtown Indianapolis, Zionsville is trying maintain "its distinctive country village charm and quality of life." Into that "quiet time" came a Wal-Mart proposal. On November 23, 2005, Sprawl-Busters reported that the Zionsville, Indiana Planning Commission had dealt Wal-Mart a setback. The Commission voted not to rezone 12 acres of land on Route 421 for a supercenter. The developer, Heritage RDG, was seeking a "general business" rezoning, but said they would still build a Wal-Mart supercenter on the remaining land they controlled. "It makes it more difficult, but it doesn't affect our amended proposal," a lawyer for the developer told the Indianapolis Star. To make the project fit on properly zoned land, the Wal-Mart had to be scaled back from 204,000 s.f. to 176,000 s.f. "Our hope is that the (Plan) Commission would stay the course," said Richard Carr, president of the Zionsville Merchants Association. "If you look around, you can see that the retail environment is very adequate to meet our needs." Local residents told Sprawl-Busters, "Our planning commission has denied the rezoning, which still leaves the developer with a large commercially zoned lot. But now it's not big enough to built any outlots. We now have the toughest battle ahead of us, making sure they still don't build on the remaining land! Several members of our town council have been vocal about not wanting this development and are now simply looking for a reason to turn Wal-Mart away without a lengthy and expensive legal battle. Our opposition troops have begun to look to other towns who have beat Wal-Mart even when the zoning is right. We're riding high on our first little victory, but everyone knows that Wal-Mart won't back down this easily." In December of 2005, the Zionsville town council voted unanimously to support their Planning Commission, and reject Wal-Mart's proposal for rezoning. The developer insisted again that it could build the superstore entirely on land that was already zoned for B-2 business. "As we've tried to express throughout the process, the parcel that was zoned B-2 permits the Wal-Mart," said Heritage RDG, the developer. "The denial of the rezone at this stage does not impact the review of the Wal-Mart proposal." Heritage had planned to build an 85,000s.f. center on the other 12 acres of land that was industrial and B-3 commercial. "I think we will have to decide what we want to do with our next step," the developer added. "We'll look at (our) legal and development options. I am exceedingly disappointed, not so much with the council as I am with the plan commission. I think they made it about Wal-Mart ... the project affected had nothing to do with Wal-Mart." After their first rejection, Wal-Mart proceeded on its own as the developer, and approached the town with a "smaller" store. Heritage also threatened a lawsuit. The neighbors told the Times Sentinel newspaper that when they bought their homes, they were told the land proposed for a big box would be used for an office park or light industrial use. At one point, the neighbors petitioned Zionsville to annex their land out of Boone County, Indiana, and into Zionsville, to protect themselves from this kind of huge big box development. When Wal-Mart submitted its plans to the town for a "reduced" store, the town Planning Commission voted in May, 2006 that it did not have jurisdiction over the land. The commission said roughly one-third of Wal-Mart's land, was in Hamilton County. Wal-Mart then sued Zionsville in June, 2006. On March 28, 2008 -- almost two and half years since the project was first rejected -- a Hamilton County, Indiana Superior Court issued a decision rejecting Zionsville's claim that it did not have jurisdiction over the project, and the court sent the case back to the Zionsville Plan Commission for review. The Judge said the town's ordinance gave the plan commission authority over "plats or parts of plats" inside the town. Judge Steven Nation, however, gave the town one important victory. He denied Wal-Mart's attempt to get the court to order the commission to approve the development. On June 19, 2008, a little more than two months after the court remanded the case to the town, the city's Planning Commission took a second vote on Wal-Mart's plans -- now for a 185,000 s.f. store -- and rejected it for a second time. That left Wal-Mart opponents very pleased, but the Comission's attorney said he expects Wal-Mart is not gone. "I would not be surprised if Wal-Mart would file an appeal of tonight's decision," said Attorney Patrick Hess. Wal-Mart told Channel 6 News said the company would be exploring its options, and that the tide of opposition had turned. "The economy such as we're experiencing now -- Wal-Mart has had a surge in customers," a company spokesman said. "It's a rare obstacle that comes up," the spokesman added, saying his company was surprised by the rejection." "Usually we have a warm reception."

What you can do: This latest Planning Commission rejection leaves Wal-Mart with two and half years of legal and engineering bills, and no store. In April, 2006 -- before the town voted they had no jurisdiction over the Wal-Mart land, but after Wal-Mart had submitted its plans for a smaller store -- Zionsville passed a 'big box' size cap, which limits the size of a store to 60,000 s.f. Wal-Mart's proposal came in at 185,000 s.f. -- but does the big box law apply to Wal-Mart -- since the company applied for a permit before the ordinance was passed? That question cannot be answered until another question is resolved: When the court ruled that Wal-Mart's application was remanded back to the town to review, is their application now a "new" project that falls under the April, 2006 ordinance? Because of these legal complications, Wal-Mart's journey to Zionsville is likely to lead to a courtroom, not a ribbon-cutting. The absurdity of this case is that the Zionsville trade area is saturated with Wal-Marts already. There are a total of 15 Wal-Mart stores within 20 miles of Zionsville, including 11 superstores. There are two Wal-Mart supercenters in Indianapolis, one of which is less than 4 miles from this site in Zionsville. This project is the kind of wasteful, redundant store that Wal-Mart shareholders must find discomforting. The company says it is trying to stop cannibalizing its own stores, yet here they are in Zionsville, trying to ignore obvious local sentiment to limit the size of stores, forcing local taxpayers to spend money on legal fees to fight Wal-Mart, despite the fact that there are 11 superstores within 20 miles of this location. This is the strategic mistake that Wal-Mart continues to make, tripping over its own stores to build another superstore in a community with less than 13,000 people. Readers are urged to email Matt Price, the President of the Zionsville town Council at mprice@zionsville-in.gov, with this message: "I would encourage Zionsville to keep fighting Wal-Mart's bullying tactics, and support your Planning Commission's 2nd vote against Wal-Mart. Your town is surrounded by 15 Wal-Mart stores within 20 miles. The land they want is not slated in your Comprehensive Plan for a superstore. Wal-Mart should be required to shrink its store down to your size cap. A suburban-style superstore is completely incompatible with the "distinctive country village charm and quality of life" that Zionsville is working to protect. There is no such thing as a village superstore, and I urge you to keep fighting for the "picture perfect" vision of Zionsville."










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

info@sprawl-busters.com
Strategic Planning ~ Field Operations
Voter Campaigns 
21 Grinnell St, Greenfield ~ MA 01301
(413) 772-6289