Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Walmart Denied: Retailer May Appeal Decision to City Council

The third time was not the charm for Walmart in its attempt to get City approval for a central El Paso Walmart. The City Plan Commission (CPC) denied the retailer’s rezoning application at its May 16, 2013 meeting.

It was the third time the item appeared on the CPC’s agenda, but the first to actually get a vote. Previously, the item had been postponed to allow Walmart representatives to make changes based on City and public input. The Commission voted 6-3 to deny the application, despite a recommendation to approve from the Planning Division.
Walmart added "subdistricts" to its site plan in its latest revision.
Walmart had initially sought rezoning to Planned Commercial District for four adjacent properties bounded by Montana Avenue, Chelsea Street, and Trowbridge Avenue in the Chel-Mont neighborhood, when representatives for the City recommended denial of the request. The City wanted the building to be moved closer to Montana Avenue with the parking lot switched to the back. It granted a two week postponement at its April 18 meeting to allow Walmart to make changes.

Original site plan.
At the following meeting, Walmart submitted a revised application which was now seeking rezoning to General Mixed Use. This would allow “subdistricts” to exist within the overall property to allow other buildings to be built in the future. The Walmart store’s footprint would stay put, but new buildings would line Montana Avenue with no setbacks, moving closer to the feel the City desired. The Planning Division now recommended approval. The CPC once again postponed the item for two weeks at its May 2 meeting to give the City enough time to consider the changes.

Walmart can now appeal the CPC’s decision directly to City Council where Representatives and the Mayor would determine the project’s ultimate fate. Walmart officials have stated that there is no other suitable site in the area and plans for the store will be scrapped if City Council denies the application.

The issue will most likely be heard at the June 18 City Council meeting.