Monroe wins Walmart appeal
MONROE - The state Court of Appeals sided with the city in a citizen group’s lawsuit against Walmart’s plans to build a store in the North Kelsey development area.
The opinion released May 20 says Friends of North Kelsey (FONK) failed to show the City Council made a “clear error” in law in approving the design plan for the 155,000-square-foot supercenter. FONK had argued the giant retailer’s plans were inconsistent with design guidelines for the development area. The three-judge panel, though, shot down almost all of FONK’s claims.
FONK’s attorney Claudia Newman said the group was disappointed with the decision.
“The court gave the city almost complete deference,” Newman said.
The group can file a petition with the state Supreme Court, but Newman said FONK hasn’t decided if it would take that option.
The city is pleased with the decision, city administrator Gene Brazel said. He notified City Council members last week of the favorable decision.
“We’re definitely happy with the outcome,” Brazel said.
The city doesn’t have a timeline yet for when it will move forward with the project that has been on hold since 2011.
The decision did find a couple areas where Walmart’s plans didn’t meet the guidelines, which the city was instructed to address.
The city needs to address public seating and lighting.
“They’re asking the City Council to look at those two issues again and do a little more work on them,” Brazel said.
The decision also leaves FONK on the hook for the city’s legal bill.
A representative from Walmart said the company is excited to be moving forward.
“We are pleased with the Court of Appeals’ action this week, which largely re-affirms the Monroe City Council’s decision to approve the siting of the Walmart store on North Kelsey Street,” Walmart said earlier this week.
The new store is expected to bring approximately 300 permanent jobs to the area, as well as temporary contract construction jobs, the company said.
The city is expected to get around $7 million from the sale of the property to Walmart.
Check out our online Publications!