Community Not About To Let Walmart Sneak Into Spot Zoned For Residential Use

In the case of an Arkansas town situated near the Bentonville headquarters of Walmart, proximity has not made many hearts grow fonder. Citizens packed a recent meeting in Bella Vista to make themselves heard on the issue of rezoning a spot so a Walmart Neighborhood Market could ostensibly move in.

News station 4029TV.com says the proposed location for the new Walmart is not only a spot zoned for residential use, but it’s located at a dangerous highway intersection. There’s also already a local grocery store at that corner, Allen’s Foods.

Citizens were so fired up about the issue, they packed a meeting held on Monday, where the proposed rezoning was to be discussed. The fire marshal had to shut down the meeting because so many people showed up, and the meeting was rescheduled.

Those who did make it into the meeting said they were upset because they hadn’t been properly informed of the meeting and there was no room for them. Others demanded it be moved to a larger location at a later date. It’s now set for June 11 at a larger venue.

People who live near the area in question say it’s a bad idea to have a Walmart there, because it’s already a hot spot for traffic accidents. Bella Vista’s city records say that particular intersection has 30 or more accidents every year.

Angry Residents Attend Public Hearing [4029TV.com]

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  1. scoutermac says:

    The walmart near me brings in trash. They are often not the cheapest place to shop also.

    • maxamus2 says:

      So, since you shop there (since you know their pricing), does that make you “trash”??

      • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

        He might mean that literally, you know. As in litter, not the dregs of human society.

        But please, continue to troll. Someday you might be as good as Snoofin.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      It’s a grocery store. The one near me has better non-sale prices than the competition. Bet most of the protesters will shop there and Allen’s doesn’t want the competition. The dangerous intersection can be fixed with a traffic light.

  2. Costner says:

    Walmarts are like power plants and homeless shelters… everyone seems ok with them provided they aren’t in their neighborhood.

    • MeowMaximus says:

      I am not OK with Wal-Mart. I refuse to shop there, and I am OK with anything that keeps them out of any town.

      • Cat says:

        So, because you don’t like and shop at Walmart, nobody else should either?

      • Gertie says:

        So people in small, rural, western towns found commonly where I grew up should have to drive 150 miles round trip to buy milk at a decent price?

        Or, how about letting them shop at a Walmart where they can save money on food and gas…and find employment?

  3. Costner says:

    A proposed Walmart near where I live was just shut down for similar reasons. A small section of the land was zoned residential or multi-family (I don’t recall exactly), and it created a huge public outcry from residents who didn’t want a Wallyworld near them. In the end the city council just voted to not allow them to come.

    http://www.keloland.com/NewsDetail6162.cfm/City_Council_Rejects_Plans_For_Third_SF_Walmart/?Id=131126

    Walmart is looking for other locations – and I’m sure most of the NIMBYs who rallied against them being built will be more than happy to shop there provided they can’t see the building from their back yards.

    I’m not a fan of Walmart or these mega-big box retailers in general, but one cannot argue that they are hugely popular. I am always amazed that there are all these fights when they want to build somewhere, but a month after opening you can’t find a parking space due to how busy they are. If people really voted with their wallets this would be a non-issue, but clearly most people are hypocrites.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      In my area, it seems like Walmart intentionally finds locations outside of city limits, just to avoid the fights over zoning & variances, as well as taxes. Part of me is always entertained when people who intentionally choose to live in an unincorporated area throw a shit storm when a Walmart, porn shop, junkyard, or hog farm moves in next door.

      My biggest gripe with Walmart is that they tend to do the cheapest environmental mitigations possible and have, on numerous occasions, wound up “preserving” cemeteries by capping them with their parking lots and getting state & tribal approval via very questionable means.

      • DogiiKurugaa says:

        The Walmart is my area did the same thing. Though, that was just being smart. My area is a very historical area and they have a LOT of regulations to preserve that feel. There is no way they could have gotten in without completely redesigning the look of the store and that would cost them too much money.

    • sendmoney2me says:

      a Walmart Neighborhood Market is not a large store. it’s an average sized Grocery store. they sell only groceries and where I live they are much cheaper than Winn Dixie and Publix on most things. where they are lacking is variety and that gives those local grocery stores a chance to survive right along side walmart if they take advantage of that weakness. walmart is cheaper on certain items all the time. I work in a neighborhood market and it’s not uncommon for us to be as much as a dollar less than anyone else on certain items and sometimes a little more expensive on a few items but it’s not usually the case

    • Actionable Mango says:

      They voted to not allow them? Starting a business requires a city council vote? That seems illegal. It also seems like that would encourage bribery.

      • failurate says:

        Locating a business requires proper zoning. The new push by Wal-Mart is smaller stores in residential neighborhoods.
        Two of our local villages recently rejected Wal-Mart’s requests for zoning changes.

  4. GrammatonCleric says:

    Ah I love citizens taking action against something they take issue with. If only we could make much more important decisions at these town meetings. Decentralization of power is my favorite. It makes it all the more awesome that they stood up for local business. Im surprised the walmart here is still open actually, the whole plaza is empty all day while Wegmans across the street is packed.

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    “Community Not About To Let Walmart Sneak Into Spot Zoned For Residential Use”

    With an average store size of 108,000 square feet, I don’t think Walmart is able to
    “sneak” into any community.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      No, but they can grease the wheels to get expedited zoning board meetings without required resident notification. The key on these controversial projects is to get everything done as quickly and secretly as possible, to minimize the public comment period.

      • failurate says:

        Wal-Mart is attempting to expand using smaller stores, around 40,000 square feet, called Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market.

        I can’t tell if it is a direct assault on smaller grocery stores or on Dollar General type stores.
        Either way, they are trying to move into residential neighborhoods.

  6. oldwiz65 says:

    Walmart will slip money into the right pockets and the zoning change will be approved despite any residents objections.

  7. Here to ruin your groove says:

    HOT SPOT FOR TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS.
    Zoned for residential use.

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      I’m not sure they thought this plan out entirely…

      • Here to ruin your groove says:

        “It is without a doubt the most dangerous intersection in Bella Vista, Arkansas,” Morrow said. “Generally, (there is) an accident a day. In fact, my friends tell me that when they hear an ambulance in Bella Vista, the first words out of their mouth are, ‘I bet it’s in front of Allen’s.’”

        Sounds like Allen’s is a public nuisance.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      Put in a traffic light. Right now there is no traffic control in front of Allen’s. It look’s like a commercial area to me. See map: http://g.co/maps/7z649

  8. homehome says:

    See, this is what you do when you don’t wants business around. These are ppl who take theri community seriously and are willing to take time out to make sure their voices are heard. Not ppl who wait 6 months after to blog, whine and complain after the issue when little to nothing can be done about it.

    • Cat says:

      PEOPLE. It’s a word, and it’s only 3 more letters than “ppl”

      Unless you’re texting, please use the WORD.

      //rant

      • homehome says:

        Didn’t realize I was in class.

        • Agent Hooter Enjoys Enhanced Patdowns says:

          You aren’t. You are, however, in a forum populated by generally well spoken adults and not 12 year old girls. You may want to raise your tone to match the group.

        • ugly says:

          Class is where you go so that you can learn the correct way to communicate outside of class. The point is to then take what you learn in school and apply it in appropriate situations. It’s actually far less important to get things right in class than here or anywhere you write simply because in school only one person is judging your communication skills and ideas, everywhere else thousands of people are judging them.

        • jamar0303 says:

          You’re in public.

  9. beachmouse says:

    In 2007, Walmart tried to bully a local small city into rezoning a 15 acre parcel from medium density residential to commercial by saying that public housing was going to be built there if the Walmart didn’t go onto the land. Which made zero sense from a financial standpoint because, hello peak of Florida housing boom, and if they were serious about building a townhouse complex there, the units would have sold for far more than what they could have gotten by building public housing.

    The city refused to rezone to commercial, the public housing thing was never brought up again, and five years later, they still haven’t built anything on the parcel in question. (I think it’s one of the biggest parcels of open land left in that part of the county, so still too valuable to ‘let go’ for public housing.)

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      So instead of jobs and sales tax revenue, there’s nothing at all. A good move!

      • philpm says:

        Seems like there are already jobs and tax revenue from the existing grocery store. More than likely, you’d just be replacing one with the other, probably with less tax revenue from the Wal-Mart market as they’d probably get some kind of tax abatement, as well as paying lower wages for fewer hours than Allen’s is probably paying.

    • wildgift says:

      Nobody builds public housing anymore. That was such a lame lie they told.

  10. ARP says:

    It will be the same as elsewhere. They’ll promise lots of new high paying jobs, but only provide a handful of part time jobs. They’ll demand significant tax breaks that often don’t make up for the cost of maintaining infrastructure and services. They’ll destroy the local economy by driving down wages, sending professional jobs to the “home office,” and eliminating use of local suppliers.

    But they’ll offer to support a few re-election campaigns, and that will be that.

  11. crispyduck13 says:

    Not sure why they are barking up the “dangerous intersection” tree, that could really backfire on them. They need to stick to not granting the variance, and that comes down to how ethical the zoning board wants to be as I’m sure there’ll be some pocket lining going on here.

    When a large structure like a Walmart is proposed they would have to provide a traffic and water runoff study either before getting the zoning variance approved or before getting the permits to start building. These studies would be done by an engineering firm and becuase it’s such a large endeavor I’d be surprised if this trouble intersection weren’t swallowed by the scale and rebuilt anyway – likely better than it was before because designs submitted have to be able to handle estimated increased traffic based on the business.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I agree. If you truly want to stop Walmart, don’t pick such an easily mitigated problem.

    • sjb says:

      Nope

      They will do a fancy show on how the existing infrastructure is adequate and that their presence will not significantly be an impact.

      - the amount of people shopping is the same, some will now just come to us.
      - if their is an increase to traffic, it will be only a small percentage and statistical this has been shown to not show a increase to (fill in the blank here) as seen in the 10,000 other location we have built.
      – the city is not allowed to be bias against us and if you do not do what we want will will tie your city up in court cases. We will prevent any other city functions by tying your city up in state legal actions.

      been there – they want this piece of land. They finally gave up after a few years of not getting their way.

      http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=45.517188,-122.898077&spn=0.006668,0.011179&t=h&z=17&vpsrc=6

  12. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Here is a view of the intersection. All it needs is a traffic light.
    http://g.co/maps/7z649

    For commenters who apparently don’t know… a Walmart Neighborhood market is a superarket – the same size as a standard supermarket. They don’t bring in riff-raff but pull from the neighborhood. The one near me is in an affluent neighborhood, took over the vacant space left by a previous failed grocery store, and is doing well over triple the sales of that previous tenant.

  13. Cat says:

    It’s a grocery store.

    If it didn’t have “Walmart” in the name, nobody would be upset about this.

    • Here to ruin your groove says:

      Yep, that’s all it is. Pretty idiotic to complain about what a nuisance the Allen’s Foods is in terms of accidents. Wal-Mart would have at least been forced to remedy that prior to opening (or shortly after as they did where I live).

      Allen’s obviously isn’t doing anything about it (hence the complaints and nonchalant “there is the ambulance again, must be Allen’s!), and as much as they bring it up, it sounds like Allen’s needs to be replaced.

      • philpm says:

        I didn’t realize that the grocery store was responsible for maintaining a public right-of-way, including installing stop lights. Seems like the city should be able to take care of that.

        • longfeltwant says:

          Quite frequently, new commercial installations are responsible for traffic studies and the cost of upgrades required for the facility. I know for a fact that WalMart did this in my community a few years back, Juneau Alaska. They put in one whole traffic light and an additional turn lane.

          Allen’s? In that case, obviously the local government didn’t think it was necessary. WalMart? Could be different.

    • longfeltwant says:

      You say that as if it’s not reasonable to have an opinion about a specific corporation or entity. Let me rephrase what you said:

      It’s just a car. If it weren’t called the Pinto, nobody would be upset about this.

      It’s just a medicine. If it weren’t called Thalidomide, nobody would be upset about this.

      These guys are farmers. If they weren’t called Halliburton, nobody would be upset about this.

      These guys are freedom fighters. If they weren’t called Al Qaeda, nobody would be upset about this.

      These guys are just a local small business. If they weren’t called Bank of America, nobody would be upset about this.

      Yeah, Cat, some people don’t like WalMart. People have their reasons. Critique the reasons if you like, but if a person doesn’t like a certain company, it’s quite reasonable for that person to oppose the company coming to town.

    • wildgift says:

      People would be upset over the zoning violation. It’s zoned residential, and everyone around there probably knows it – especially the people who bought houses there after the zoning designation. They would know the difference between some more houses and a big commercial structure.

  14. thenutman69321 says:

    If only people actually stood up for important things. Not just stupid things like this.

  15. StarKillerX says:

    Considering that no one was notified a whole lot of people showed up.

  16. Rachacha says:

    The citizens better ome up with some more reasons other than just a dangerous intersection as I have seen some planning boards approve stores with the agreement that the retailer will improve the intersection, widening the road, adding turn lanes and signal lights. It is a way for public road projects to get completed with no or minimal cost to the town.

  17. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    This is near bentonville. you can’t possibly tell me that there aren’t enough walmarts in the area already.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      This is a Walmart Neighborhood market – a grocery store – not a full sized Walmart.

    • RickinStHelen says:

      It’s not a Walmart, it’s a Walmart Neighborhood Market. They are grocery stores, and much smaller than a Walmart Supercenter.

  18. TheSpatulaOfLove says:

    They’re building a new Walmart in my town. It’s a sign of the times, as my town was known to fight off the MegaLoMart type stores for years. With the closures of CompUSA, Borders, Circuit City and a few other large anchor stores in one of the mall areas, my town I guess conceded to letting them in after resisting it for years.

    Personally, I will not shop at Walmart. After doing business with Walmart as a vendor, it soured me for life dealing with them in any capacity. I am fortunate enough to be in Meijer country, plus have access to lots of smaller retailers that offer specialty items and foods not found in big box stores. My only hope is that my fellow locals see the value in the smaller retailers as much as I do and continue to do business with them despite the new shiny Walmart slated to open this fall…

  19. AllanG54 says:

    Obviously the people of Bella Vista drive like shit. But moving away from that…I lived in a town in NJ where Walmart wanted to open across from an elementary school. People were opposed due to the traffic. Store opened anyhow because the town needed the money. Apparently the people forgot their objections as soon as the store opened because it’s always busy. And then the town needed to save money and closed the school.

  20. Not Given says:

    There’s an empty grocery building near my house, zoned C-1. The building and the parking lot cover a half block. A company came in and bought both the grocery stores in town and closed one. Can they put a neighborhood market in a 18,450 sq ft building? I wish they would, there is no competition here.

    • gman863 says:

      Doubtful. Most of the Neighborhood Markets I’ve seen are +/- 35,000-40,000 SF (about the size of a circa 1990s Winn-Dixie or medium size older Kroger).

  21. eaddict says:

    Ellisville, MO just voted in a Wal-Mart super store and allowing Wal-Mart to use TIF. The residents didn’t want it to get TIF nor did the mayor but the CIty Council voted it in anyway. Wonder who is NOT going to get re-elected.

  22. gman863 says:

    My guess is Walmart will chip in a few hundred thousand bucks to upgrade the intersection in order to close the deal.

  23. Kestris says:

    The residents of a community here, Clearbrook, tried for a few years to keep a Super Walmart from being built in their community, on the grounds that it was on a busy highway (220South) and right across the street from an elementary school.

    They lost the battle.

  24. PsiCop says:

    First of all, I have to observe that if the spot truly is a “dangerous highway intersection,” it’s probably not a good idea to build houses there at all. Hence, rezoning it out of residential is probably a good idea. As for whether a Walmart should go there, or if it should be zoned commercial (as opposed to something else, like industrial) is another matter entirely.

    Second, I’ve found that there are a lot of knee-jerk Walmart opponents who will scream and howl and rage and fume at even the hint of a Smiley moving in … but in the end, once the thing is built, they’ll shop there. This is precisely what happened here in CT in the tony town of Avon. A Caldor there closed up and Walmart decided to move in. The yuppies in the area went berserk. Unfortunately for them there was little they could do about it, since Walmart was replacing an identical kind of business that had already been there for many years. They nevertheless protested, on the grounds that Walmart was going to sell guns (the Caldor hadn’t). The Walmart opened despite their sanctimonious rage, and guess what kinds of cars you now see in its parking lot? Audis, Infinitis, Acuras, even BMWs and Mercedes. Yep … all the same people.

    Third, I generally am not impressed by any kind of NIMBY arguments. There are always things that have to get built, and they have to be built somewhere. Some of those things are things people would rather not have near them. But guess what? Too bad: Grow up, suck it up, and live with it. In a free country, we cannot outlaw Walmarts just because we don’t like them, because they’re “too big,” because they “attract a bad crowd,” because “they’re not a union shop,” or whatever the complaint happens to be.

    To presume one’s own community is so sacrosanct that it can never be profaned by the presence of something one subjectively dislikes, is immature and ridiculous. It really needs to stop.

  25. spamtasticus says:

    The most important part of this story is being missed. The fire marshal did not just walk in and say “ohh this is a fire hazard, lets reschedule the meeting”. He was called in by whomever is Walmar’s inside man and purposely ran everyone out. This is a common tactic in community meetings. People’s dedication to a cause tends to wane when they have to come back another day. Take a guess what will happen if enough people come back the next day.

  26. ozark81 says:

    I live near that area and Bella Vista is one large retirement village. Most of those accidents can be tied to an older person being involved. That is one of the reasons a bypass is in the works. So once that happens traffic will be much less. Also Wal-Mart will most likely put a light in just to help get people in and out. They like to make money so it makes sense to have a light there. Also I would bet big money that the person who owns the grocery store that is already there is stirring this issue to their benefit. Bella Vista likes to say it is a victim but the village council is all about money. Fire systems like the hydrants have not been checked in forever, which caused one building to burn since water could not get to it in time. They tried to annex an area without asking the people if they wanted to be annexed, and many other things.