Decision on Walmart Supercenter is delayed
July 25, 2008
Some Snyderville Basin residents don’t like Walmart.
Their criticism at a public hearing Wednesday helped convince the Summit County Commission to delay a decision about whether to allow the world’s largest retailer to expand its store at 6545 N. Landmark Drive to sell groceries.
The unanimous vote forces Walmart back to the drawing board to further address traffic impacts from the project. The roughly 60 percent expansion would make the store about the size of Home Depot in Silver Summit, which is nearly twice as large as most other grocery stores in western Summit County, where big-box stores are discouraged.
"I’m now saying to Walmart, ‘You guys have got some work to do,’" said Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer, who suggested delaying the vote at a meeting at the Sheldon Richins Building. "Perhaps we should take a week, take two weeks, take two months [and] have our staff review it."
Traffic tops the list of concerns, but Walmart critics complained about shoddy landscaping at the store. As a condition of approving the expansion, Walmart would agree to replace dying trees and shrubs.
"It’s very upsetting to me I think they lack good faith," Basin resident Gail Wariner said about the unsightly store. "I think it’s an embarrassment to our county."
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Snyderville Basin Planning Commissioners Flint Decker, Claudia McMullin, Jeff Smith and Julie Baker recommended the County Commission approve a conditional use permit for the expansion.
Parkite Paul Zane Pilzer was one of few people who spoke in favor of expand Walmart to about 115,000 square feet.
"If I were feeding a family on a very tight budget, I would like to have the choice of not to go to Albertsons," Pilzer said, adding that food prices decrease when Walmart competes with other grocers. "Walmart is the safety net of the United States."
But Basin resident Richard Thomas disagrees.
"Walmart has a habit of putting other people out of business," Thomas said at the public hearing. "The citizens have got to do something better with Kimball Junction."
The store should not expand because "Walmart has done nothing to show that they are true to their word in terms of maintenance," Basin resident Libby Wadman said.
"My request would be, put it on the backburner for a few years and see what happens in Heber," Wadman said.
The Boyer Co. is busy building a new 150,000 square-foot Walmart Supercenter at the intersection of U.S. 40 and U.S. 189 in Heber that could be completed in 2011.
"When [the Kimball Junction] store was originally built, an expansion was always planned," said architect Troy Herald, who helped design Walmart’s proposed remodel.
But the Basin doesn’t need another supermarket, Snyderville resident David Wadman said.
"A big-box Walmart is not the environment that many of us moved here for," he said.
Park City resident Maire Rosol charged that Walmart’s "tendency in a lot of other communities is to go in and bully people in order to get what they want."
"Increases in the size of big box are not appropriate," said Summit County Commissioner Sally Elliott, who tried to force a vote to reject the expansion but was overruled by her colleagues. "Probably, we haven’t taken fully into account that additional traffic might be caused by increasing the size of Walmart."
But denying the permit means the county must show that impacts from the expansion cannot be overcome, County Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme said.
"This is a conditional use permit, and according to our counsel, we’ve got to have some pretty good reasons to deny it," Woolstenhulme said.
The store would expand to the north and west if the permit is approved.