A plan for a Wal-Mart Supercenter in south Lees Summit won approval last week after City Council members apparently were persuaded that the discount chain will build a new road to help with traffic.
By RUSS PULLEY
Special to The Star
Even with that honey, the decision didnt go down well with opponents, who vowed to continue fighting the project. On Facebook theres talk of recalling council members.
Tim Kirkpatrick and Brandi Riggs, two leaders of Citizens for Responsible Development, said the council and city staff seemed to be pro-Wal-Mart through the whole approval process.
It did seem like things that were stated werent very objective, Riggs said after last Thursdays meeting. There wasnt a con mentioned.
The store is proposed for 3410 S.W. Market St. in the Missouri 150 Corridor. Some tougher sustainability standards for the area are on hold, allowing Wal-Marts application to go forward. But the project nearly died earlier last month when the council narrowly voted against Wal-Mart due to traffic concerns. It reversed that decision at the same meeting, putting the store on life support.
During a reopened public hearing Thursday, city staffers reiterated why the council should approve the Supercenter.
Traffic Engineer Michael Park said the project meets all city standards. And intersections would meet city goals, once required street improvements paid for by Wal-Mart are completed.
The council voted 6-2, with Brian Whitley and Kathy Hofmann voting no, to draft an ordinance for rezoning needed by the Supercenter. The council will have to vote to approve the rezoning.
The next steps will be for the city to finalize a development agreement with Wal-Mart regarding street improvements, including several additional turning lanes serving the Market Street/Missouri 150 intersection.
Added to the mix is an expectation that Wal-Mart will build another street west of Market for a second access.
The city and Missouri Department of Transportation, when analyzing traffic, said that road would be desirable, but not required, Park said.
Christine Bushyhead, an attorney for Wal-Mart, testified that landowners have agreed to donate right-of- way, but it would cost about $500,000 to build the road, more than what the corporation budgeted for off-site improvements.
Total road improvements would be about $1.2 million, she said, and the increased amount needs to be approved by Wal-Mart.
If youre going to make it a requirement of us, so be it. Well see if we can make the numbers work, Bushyhead said.
Councilmember Ed Cockrell said he didnt expect Wal-Mart to bear the roads full cost, only Wal-Marts share. The citys practice is to spread costs of infrastructure in an area being newly developed among the parties benefiting from the work.
Cockrell asked the city staff to find a mechanism for reimbursing Wal-Mart for part of the cost, with the remainder to be covered by future development.
Hofmann, and some residents, questioned whether the big-box store fit in the goals of having walkable sustainable neighborhoods called for in the citys Missouri 150 Corridor plan. She said residents had cooperated with the city for weeks of public meetings to create the corridor plan.
Director of Development Bob McKay said that the area where the Supercenter is to be built was designated for office, retail or a single retail use like a big-box store. He said the plan calls for residential development northwest of the Wal-Mart, so people could ride or walk to the store. It also would spur more commercial development, he said.
Hofmann was skeptical of the long-term economic benefit.
Whats it going to do to the businesses established there? she said.