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This Shouldn’t Be About Walmart

Should we vote to approve the rezoning of the Southwest Quadrant of 85th and Minnesota from Agricultural to Commercial at the April 8th City Election?

Personal disclosure first:  Several years ago, long after I was Mayor, I ownedWalmart stock. I sold it because I didn’t agree with their treatment of small local vendors and their employees. I do not shop at either Walmart or Sam’s Club. I do my best to support local and regional businesses.

The Southern area of Sioux Falls is growing rapidly. Faster than most thought it would. The recession didn’t seem to slow things down. There is little major commercial property south of 69th street.  Minnesota Avenue is a state highway. It will continue to be a major traffic carrier from the airport to where it ends at highway 18.

Eighty Fifth Street is on the City’s major street plan. It makes sense that larger commercial development would occur at the intersection of two major streets.  The Southeast Quadrant of the same intersection is already home to commercial enterprises.

I have listened to many people against the rezoning proposal. Most of them use words like this: “It is not the right location for a Walmart.”

They realize the area will be commercial but “It is not the right location for a Walmart.”

My translation of those words is:  “We don’t want to describe to people how to get to our place by using Walmart as a landmark.” 

If the proposal was for a Macy’s or a Nordstrom’s, I wonder if they would have petitioned for a public vote.

Sioux Falls has been growing at a rapid pace for decades. Lincoln County  has been one of the fastest growing counties not just in South Dakota, but in the nation. The expansion of Sioux Falls into Lincoln County is a major reason.

I do understand growth can be unsettling to people, especially when vacant fields become houses, apartments, offices, commercial business, and sometimes a  Walmart.  There are some houses near this property, to the Northwest.  None of them were close enough to legally protest the rezoning to commercial. Hence the petitions and now public vote.

I don’t always agree with the decisions of the Planning Commission, City Council, or the Mayor. In this case, I believe they acted ethically, morally, and within the spirit and letter of the law when they voted to approve this rezoning.

I am voting “Yes.”


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