City will move forward on Walmart deal in July
MONROE - The city will likely start moving forward on the Walmart deal in early July once the appeal period has ended, city administrator Gene Brazel said last week.
The city last month won an appeal at the state Court of Appeals brought by a citizens group challenging the city’s approval of the Walmart project to build in the North Kelsey development area.
The lawsuit against the city has put the project on hold since 2011. The city owns the property and the land deal will bring in $7.3 million to the city. City finance director Dianne Nelson said the entire amount will go to pay down the debt the city owes on the North Kelsey property. That total debt before the Walmart payment is $11.3 million.
Part of the May court ruling, however, mandates the city look at the issue of lighting and pedestrian seating in the planned development area for the 155,000-square-foot superstore. The future home of Walmart at one time had specific design guidelines. Some of the design guidelines still stand within city code, and the court found the city didn’t meet those guidelines with regards to height of lighting fixtures and styling guidelines for public seating areas.
The city will hold a public hearing on the lighting and seating issues in early July, Brazel said.
The design plan will have to be augmented, and the city will review the new plan and possibly make additional changes, Brazel said.
After that, the permitting process will begin, which per the contract with Sabey (which is selling to Walmart) is likely to move swiftly.
“Part of the land sale agreement with Sabey was the issuance of non-discretionary permits,” Brazel said. Several building permits must be issued by the city before construction can begin, and the contract says the city can’t hold up the permits unnecessarily, he said.
If Sabey meets all the requirements of non-discretionary permits, per the contract, the city can’t just say no to hold up construction.
“If they meet all the codes, they can obtain (the permits),” Brazel said.
A representative from Walmart said last month that the store will bring 300 permanent jobs to the area as well as temporary contract construction jobs.
“We’ve had some proposals of businesses wanting to go in as soon as (Walmart) opens their doors,” Brazel said. “We have people waiting in the wings, major businesses, restaurants.”
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