Wal-Mart officials urge approval of expansion.Byline: Karen McCowan The Register-Guard
COTTAGE GROVE Cottage Grove, village (1990 pop. 22,935), Washington co., SE Minn., near the St. Croix River; inc. 1965. There is farming (cattle, sheep, corn, and soybeans) and manufacturing (chemicals and machinery). - Both sides mustered their armies, but only a few opponents got to take part in the first skirmish of Wal-Mart War II on Wednesday night.
At least as many area residents stood outside as sat inside a packed City Hall Council Chamber for a planning commission Noun 1. planning commission - a commission delegated to propose plans for future activities and developments
commission, committee - a special group delegated to consider some matter; "a committee is a group that keeps minutes and loses hours" - Milton Berle hearing on zoning code changes sought as part of Wal-Mart's bid to expand its Cottage Grove store. The retailer has proposed expanding its 81,000-square-foot store into a 160,000-square-foot "supercenter."
The hearing marked the first opportunity for the public to address the commission on the matter. But most of the meeting was taken up by Wal-Mart representatives - a lawyer, a civil engineer and a traffic engineer - challenging a city staff report that recommended that the commission deny the project.
The city's planning staff See: central planning team. said the retail giant's proposal would strip away important conditions set down by the city in 1994, when it allowed Wal-Mart to build in a "commercial tourist" zone just east of Interstate in·ter·state
Involving, existing between, or connecting two or more states.
One of a system of highways extending between the major cities of the 48 contiguous United States.
Noun 1. 5. Those conditions included a size limit of 105,000 square feet and siting it behind two parcels of land along Row River Road reserved for smaller, tourism-related businesses.
In its expansion application, Wal-Mart sought permission instead to devote all that land to parking. But its engineering consultant, Brian Dickerson, said Wednesday night that the company was prepared to compromise on that issue by reserving a portion of those parcels for smaller retail businesses.
He also charged that the city already has moved away from the "tourist" part of the "tourist commercial" zone since it approved the original store in 1994. And the company's traffic engineer disputed the city staff's assertion that the larger store would overwhelm o·ver·whelm
tr.v. o·ver·whelmed, o·ver·whelm·ing, o·ver·whelms
1. To surge over and submerge; engulf: waves overwhelming the rocky shoreline.
a. area roads and intersections.
Under planning commission procedure, proponents of any application get first crack at testifying during hearings, and that didn't sit well with frustrated frus·trate
tr.v. frus·trat·ed, frus·trat·ing, frus·trates
a. To prevent from accomplishing a purpose or fulfilling a desire; thwart: Wal-Mart opponents on Tuesday night.
Resident Chris Foraker, one of more than 50 people who stood outside the chamber, complained that the session resembled a "filibuster filibuster, term used to designate obstructionist tactics in legislative assemblies. It has particular reference to the U.S. Senate, where the tradition of unlimited debate is very strong. It was not until 1917 that the Senate provided for cloture (i.e. " by Wal-Mart.
"This is supposed to be a public hearing," he said. "But it's been two hours, and some people have already left."
Fourteen area residents who support the proposed Cottage Grove superstore su·per·store
A very large retail store that stocks highly diversified merchandise, such as groceries, toys, and camera equipment, or a wide variety of mechandise in a specific product line, such as computers or sporting goods. - particularly its full-service grocery department - followed the Wal-Mart officials' testimony.
Last week the company mailed fliers to area residents, asking them to support the proposed expansion by writing letters to the editor and to city officials or by testifying at the hearing.
Frank Cronin was typical of those who spoke Tuesday night, saying he was a retiree living on $16,000 a year and drives to Eugene for his groceries gro·cer·y
n. pl. gro·cer·ies
1. A store selling foodstuffs and various household supplies.
2. groceries Commodities sold by a grocer. because prices are "so far out of line."
"We need this Wal-Mart store," he said.
Sheila Sheila is a common given name for a female, taken from the Gaelic name Síle/Sìle, which is believed to be a Gaelic form of Julia or Cecilia. Like "Cecil" or "Cecilia", the name means "Smart and Wise", from the Latin caecus. Bruin, an employee at the store and a single mother raising four children, praised Wal-Mart for donating to the parent club at her children's school.
Beatrice Taylor said the store generously supported members of a Cottage Grove-based National Guard unit during their deployment in Iraq.
And Angelo Fanton, owner of a local bridal business, said Wal-Mart has helped rather than hurt his small business.
"Their employees shop in our store - we do their weddings," he said.
Only a handful of opponents testified before the planning commission halted the hearing after a verbal altercation between two audience members.
Those testifying included longtime long·time
Having existed or persisted for a long time: a longtime friend; a longtime resident of Detroit.
Adjective Cottage Grove resident Al Conner.
"I think competition is good, but are we long-term promoting competition with a Wal-Mart superstore?" Conner asked. "There's been other instances of Wal-Mart steamrolling communities, which ends up eliminating competition."
The planning commission voted to continue the hearing Jan. 31.
HEARING TO CONTINUE
The Cottage Grove Planning Commission will take more public comment on Wal-Mart's proposal
Where: City Hall Council Chamber, 400 Main St.
When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31