Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Final Walmart Decision Set for Today (Update: Walmart Withdraws Plans)

Update: Representatives for Walmart asked the City to delete the item from the agenda prior to today's Council meeting. Walmart has also withdrawn its rezoning application, according to City Rep. Emma Acosta. If so, the project may have been scrapped by the retailer.

Original Story:
City Council to Hold Vote on Rezoning Application

The City Council will decide this week whether or not a new Walmart Neighborhood Market store can be built at the corner of Chelsea Street and Montana Avenue in central El Paso. The retailer has appealed the City Plan Commission’s (CPC) earlier decision not to approve a zoning change that would have allowed the store to be constructed.
A flyer supporting the proposed Walmart store has circulated in the neighborhood around the commercial property, according to residents. (elpasonaturally.blogspot.com)

Now, three-fourths of the Council will have to vote “yes” in order for the application to be approved. That is based on Texas Local Government Code section 211.006(d) which states that this ratio of majority is required when 20% or more of property owners within 200 feet of the affected property are opposed to the application.

In addition to letters and email messages, the Council has been given a petition against the proposed store. Walmart officials have put together a petition of their own with signatures of residents in favor of the Neighborhood Market at the property, which has also been filed with the City.
Walmart's site plan shows a parking lot facing Montana Avenue. Homes line Cardon Street.

A leaflet emphasizing possible benefits to the neighborhood if the Walmart was built has been circulated to residents, according to a recent post at the El Paso Naturally blog (elpasonaturally.blogspot.com). It includes renderings of what the store may look like if built. It is unclear if the handout was created by Walmart or by supporters of the store.

Initial plans for the 35,500 square foot store emerged in April when Walmart representatives submitted a rezoning application for four adjacent properties in the Chel-Mont neighborhood. Owners of all four properties are on board to sell to Walmart if the application is approved, including the owner of the Chico’s Tacos at the site.

After postponing the vote twice, the CPC denied the application at its May 16, 2013 meeting, paving the way for an appeal to City Council. The appeal was postponed by the Council at its June 18, 2013 meeting.

The store’s fate will be decided at the July 2, 2013 City Council meeting unless it is once again postponed. If approved, Walmart officials hope to have the store completed by the end of 2014, according to the Master Zoning Plan Report prepared by Dunaway Associates of Fort Worth.