Friday, April 13, 2012

A Walmart in Your Future

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.


  1. It's absolutely about "not a Walmart" sentiment. If it was a enormous box store sized Starbucks these people wouldn't give two s**ts. I have talked with two different homeowners who live near the proposed site and they both flat out state their opposition is due to the fact that it is a Walmart. I'm not saying I blame them, Walmart brings the Walmartians (you tube it if you haven't) and the fact is I wouldn't want that crowd around my family in my neighborhood. Let's call a spade a spade and be truthful. People are opposed because it is a Walmart that is being considered. We have all been in a Walmart and you all know what I'm talking about. Walmart brings some very wierd and sketchy looking people through their doors. If the homeowners in this proposed area can muster up enough opposition and be loud enough to stop the Walmart then more power to them. Come on people, we ALL KNOW this is about the proposed store being a Walmart, to say this isn't the main component of opposition is just being dishonest.

  2. Well if you want your opposition to be based on bias against "Walmart and their clientele" you will lose this fight. If you want your fight in opposition because this corner is not set up for mass commercial, you have a better chance and that's the truth.

  3. Lynn, you are correct. I still believe the bias against Walmart is the driving force behind the opposition but you are correct about a winning strategy to keep them from breaking ground. Political correctness precludes a lot of people from speaking their mind, plus it's not a winning strategy in the courts or corridors of power to just say "I don't like Walmart or their customers". The argument has to be about zoning and mass commercial.

  4. I think a key question was asked by Planning Commission member Steve Gaspar at the April 4th meeting. He and Denny Pierson were the two individuals who voted "No".

    He clarified with Engineering that Cliff Avenue will be improved this year from Tomar Road to 61st Street. That leaves eight blocks of two lane road between 61st and 69th. Engineering also stated it will be another five years before those eight blocks are scheduled to be expanded.

    How can that stretch of road possibly handle an additional 8,000 vehicles a day!!??

  5. The coverage on Kelo TV tonight was lame. Comparing a Walgreen store on a major commercial highway with a proposed big box store in a total residential area is hardly the same thing. It was a stupid story.

  6. Walmart could be moved further south between Sioux Falls and Harrisburg. The closer to Harrisburg the better for the people of Harrisburg. A Walmart in that location would also draw the southern Sioux Falls crowd. I do agree with those who think that it makes more sense to put the store in an area where there is more room to bring more businesses in.

  7. The two lane road to Harrisburg is narrow with no shoulder and already overburdened with traffic coming into Sioux Falls. The two lanes from 61st to 69th with no schedule of upgrade in the next 5 years makes no sense if the City Council is going to approve a big box store on the corner of 69th and Cliff. Have any of you driven on Cliff to 69th and to Harrisburg. It is not set up for this type of traffic and I even questioned the lack of road upgrade with the high school and University of Sioux Falls football complex out there. If you plan to put big box stores on this corner then for heavens sakes follow through with a road system to support this activity. Otherwise, why do you do it? Makes no sense.

  8. Everyone knows that the city builds a road AFTER they create a traffic nightmare with their planning and development process. The city has never been before the curve on traffic and road construction needs. That would mean they have to have vision and see the big picture. Something they don't have when it comes to traffic and future road planning. Just give the developers what they want and take care of the overburdened traffic problems later. Can the CIP afford the Cliff Avenue upgrades that will be necessary if the Walmart project is approved? The City Council needs to address that issue when the discuss this rezoning at their next meeting.

  9. We really shouldn't be zoning for big-box retail ANYWHERE in this city anymore. Sioux Falls, like most other Midwestern cities, is already overbuilt with retail space, and it is well-known that big-box developments almost never generate enough economic activity to cover the costs of the infrastructure necessary to support them. As the New Economy comes into force, we need to recognize what kinds of development will be successful in the long-term: pedestrian-oriented, small-scale, mixed-use development.

    I posted this link already over at Dacola, but it's worth looking at in this debate as well: