If you live in southeastern Sioux Falls, you know that right now you are in the midst of two hotbed issues. One is the proposed building of a new Walmart at the corner of 69th and Cliff Avenue. The other is the proposed railroad switching alternative related to the Railroad Relocation Project. Both issues have propelled citizens in this quiet district of the city to civic action.
The future land use regarding this agricultural property was first identified as multi-family and the land use was later changed to commercial and office development. The owner of the agricultural property petitioned that the land be changed from agricultural to C-4 which was approved some time ago. Hyvee had plans to build a grocery store on this site and requested that the property be rezoned from office to commerical. Drainage problems were identified and drainage plans were necessary for the project.
At issue before the Planning Commission on April 4th was the rezoning of property on the NE corner of 69th and Cliff Avenue. The total site is 17.2 acres of which 13.9 acres is already zoned C-4. The request before the Planning Commission was to rezone the northwest corner from office to C-4 and to rezone the remaining 2.65 acres from office to recreation/conservation.
The action by the Planning Commission on April 4th did not approve the project. This body only makes a recommendation regarding the zoning of the property to the City Council who has final approval on the project. If the City Council approves the rezoning, it will take effect about 25 days later.
If the approval takes place, then the property owners within 250 feet of the property requested for rezoning can petition to protest the rezoning. If 40% of the eligible property owners sign and file a petition within 20 days after publication of the City Council's approval of the rezoning, the City Council must review the granting of the rezoning at its next regular scheduled meeting. If the protest is filed the ordinance does not become effective unless it is approved by a resolution by six (6) members of the City Council (source: Sioux Falls official website, Planning Department Section).
I have heard people ask, regarding both issues facing citizens in the southeast district, why only the citizens immediately surrounding the proposed area are given official notice by the city. Well, public notice to citizens is set out in city ordinance. In the case of rezoning, city ordinance only requires that city planning staff send written notification to property owners within 300 feet of the subject property prior to a hearing. If you are not within 300 feet of a disputed land use issue, you might not even know it is going to happen until it is done.
The Walmart issue is a difficult one because part of the proposed site is already zoned C-4 which means Planned Commercial District designation for personal services, office and retail.
I do not buy the sentiment that the opposition is about "not a Walmart in my backyard." If that were the case, this would be a no-brainer decision for the City Council. The issue is whether a big box store "fits" in this corner. Take a look at where big box stores usually locate. They locate in areas that are specifically designed to promote additional significant retail activity. They locate in big commercial zoned sites that support extensive retail and commercial activity and traffic. This corner is not a shopping center nor is it a strip mall location.
Walmarts, Target stores, Kohls - all those big box stores locate in big commercial zoned areas that promote big retail activity. 41st Street and Louise Avenue corridor, 10th Street and Highway 11 which is home to the new Dawley Farms Retail area - that's where you see these big box stores locate. They don't locate on the corner of some residential area that is zoned for light commercial and office trade.
The corner of 69th Street and Cliff Avenue is not a big commercial strip mall environment. Take a moment and drive to that corner and you will see that it is no where near the kind of retail strip mall environment that 41st and Louise is or the area of Dawley Farms.
Just because you can build it there, doesn't mean you should build there. The general location and character of this property is not conducive to a big box store irrespective of it's C-4 zoning. Does approving the Walmart store represent a logical and orderly development pattern for this area? I submit to the City Council that it does not and it should not be approved.