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2008-11-05
Bloomington, MN. Target Drops Out, Is Wal-Mart Close Behind?

It took seventeen months of grueling controversy, but activists in Bloomington, Minnesota knocked Target off the mark in their city, and in the corporation's home state. But now there is talk that Wal-Mart will be the next big box to try to squeeze its way into the city. According to the Star Tribune newspaper, the battle to stop Target from building a store on a 22 acre industrial site at Normandale Boulevard and Old Shakopee Road was "unprecedented." From the outset, Target's project seemed to have gone awry. Every city department or commission that reviewed the project recommended against it. Opponents flooded City Hall with emails against the project, at the rate of 5 to 1 against the project, according to the newspaper. The huge store required a supermajority vote of the City Council, because the plan required amending the city's Comprehensive Plan. The parcel is designated for industrial use in the city's Comprehensive Plan and would need to be reclassified as community commercial. Target fought back with direct mailings to city residents, promising jobs and tax revenues. The retailer had the backing of the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, which sold out its smaller members to support the national chain store. "We have worked hard to partner with the city and the county and the neighborhood," said a Target spokeswoman. "We hope the City Council will be favorable to what we think will be a phenomenal project for Bloomington." But city planners pointed out that the development would adversely impact existing retail areas and use valuable industrial land for low-paying jobs. The neighbors said the project would create unacceptable traffic congestion. To widen the roads for turning lanes, land would have to be taken from a condo association, some single-family homes, a day-care center and a gas station. A group called the "Stop Target Committee" said they objected to the project because of traffic and tax implications. "Our big concern is we've got a corporation making changes to public streets to facilitate their development, and forsaking what people and the neighbors think of it," one spokesman for STC said. Vicki Wisniewski, one of the leaders of the opposition, lives just over a mile from the site, noted: "It's going to take away from the quality of life for everybody in this neighborhood. That intersection is the only way for several thousand residents to get from the east side to the west side of the city. I use it to get to the grocery store, to my son's school, to the post office, to friends' houses... Traffic is already a D there. It will go down to an F, and that is just not acceptable." Today, Wisnewski sent the following account to Sprawl-Busters: "Target Corporation withdrew it's application to build a 178,000 square foot SuperTarget store in my town. The city Council meeting on October 27 lasted for over 7 hours. During deliberation, each of the 7 council members stated they would not be in support of the proposal when suddenly, Tom Carrico, Target Land Development specialist, withdrew the application, preventing the vote from taking place. This predatory tactic caught us by surprise. If council had voted, the applicant would have been legally prohibited from reapplying for one year. Now, they can submit a new application tomorrow and all of our petitions, public testimony, and public records of opposition are wiped off the record. We suspect that in spite of it's promise 'If it doesn't work for Bloomington, then it doesn't work for Target', Target will be submitting another application in about 6 months."

What you can do: Wisniewski says that at the City Council meeting, "our group gave a 10 minute presentation which focused on the 2025 goals and visions laid out by our city's planning division. We focused on citizens being active, and respectful and our city making wise choices about taxes, land use, and traffic. We also drove home the points of Target being un-pedestrian friendly as well as paying its employees low wages. Hopefully Target's application withdrawal was simply to save face and prevent this blemish from tainting its hometown record. Our hope is that now they will sell the land and find a more suitable parcel to develop. A rumor has surfaced that Wal-Mart has also purchased an industrial parcel of land in our neighborhood. Our humble grass- roots group has vowed to stay in the game to preserve the character of our neighborhood and our quality of life. We would not have been able to accomplish our goal without the City of Bloomington on our side. Minnesota Land Use legislation is governed by the City to make its own rules. Land Use is strictly guarded in the Comprehensive Plan which is written by Our Planning Division which has a national reputation of the highest quality. On a political note, one of our council members remarked that Target can in part blame itself for the traffic congestion (which is too heavy to allow for retail development here) because for the past 6 years it single-handedly stood in the way of a transportation funding bill which would have given Minnesota the funding to complete the highway 169/494 interchange project which would have reduced traffic congestion on Old Shakopee Road. Minnesota has a Big Box Tax law on the books." For further background on the Bloomington victory over Target, readers should email ourbloom@live.com.










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

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