Wal-Mart hears opposition to superstore in Plymouth
Wal-Mart invited the Plymouth community to attend a neighborhood meeting concerning the possible construction of a super center at the site of the Four Seasons Mall on Oct. 10.
Wal-Mart purchased the decaying mall for $10.6 million in hopes of erecting a 150,000-180,000 square-foot store at the corner of Highway 169 and Rockford Road.
It is common for Wal-Mart to meet opposition in attempting to build one of their big-box stores in a heavily residential area, and the neighborhood meeting on Oct. 10 showed that Plymouth was no exception.
Nearly 100 people appeared to voice their concerns about the store. As it stands, the Wal-Mart owned property at the Four Seasons Mall is not zoned for a retail store like Wal-Mart, but the company is preparing to submit an application to the Plymouth City Council to rezone the area.
The residents in attendance at the meeting raised a number of concerns including increased traffic and the strain on surrounding infrastructure, increased crime rates, possible decline of property values and noise and light pollution to adjacent properties.
Engineers, construction contractors and a Wal-Mart spokesperson were in attendance to field questions.
“We have not submitted an application to the city as of yet,” said Lisa Nelson, area public affairs manager for Wal-Mart. “We are starting at the drawing board, and we’re going to take all the feedback and input from [the meeting] and we’re going to use that to really put our heads together and put together an application that’s going to work for Plymouth.”
Although the residents had much to say against the Wal-Mart model of business, most citizens were not against Wal-Mart as a company, rather against any store of that size being built in the area, where housing exists within 300 feet.
“When we moved into the neighborhood 15 years ago this was a reasonably full strip mall,” said resident Erich Schroeder. “It was a great set up to have in the neighborhood, and not at all imposing. Now, at the risk of any big-box store, not just Wal-Mart, I don’t want the traffic, the noise, the rerouting of the neighborhood. This should be a smaller facility.”
Ward 4 City Council member Ginny Black was among the several city officials and staff in attendance to get a feel for the sentiments of the community.
“I’ve received a lot of emails about this, and will receive a lot more,” Black said while addressing the crowd. “You can contact city staff, council members and the mayor with concerns. We don’t have a proposal, this [was] just a neighborhood meeting. You have a couple of places where you can voice your concerns. And it’s up to you where you go.”
Many questions were raised as to why Wal-Mart had purchased land that isn’t zoned for their type of development, and what the company’s plan was if the city denied its application to rezone the property. Neither of which received a definitive or clear answer.
“Our goal is to get closer to our customers,” said Nelson. “And we’re trying to serve our customers in the area they call home.”
When Wal-Mart submits an application, it will initially go to the Planning Commission, where a public forum will accompany the meeting. If the Planning Commission approves the application, it will be pushed forward to the City Council at a regular meeting with a public hearing.
Since no application has been made, and since the city has not seen any plans, the neighborhood meeting ended with little resolve, questions left unanswered and some members of the community still unsure and unwilling to accept the possibility of a Wal-Mart next door.