Tucson’s Land Use Code says:
“Protect established residential neighborhoods by supporting compatible development.”
A 24-hr Wal-Mart is not compatible with the surrounding midtown neighborhoods. Wal-Mart does not belong just 250 feet away from homes in ANY neighborhood.
Happy 50th Birthday, Walmart?
From Sum of Us. July 2012
FROM THE ARIZONA DAILY STAR
El Con neighborhoods still battling Walmart, seeking public hearings
JUNE 30, 2012
• Chris Tanz, Cathy Davis And Frank Babb
The neighborhoods around El Con Mall are not giving up the fight to prevent incompatible development at the mall.
We’re writing in response to the June 20 article “Demolition to clear El Con site for Walmart.” Unfortunately only Walmart and El Con officials were quoted.
The article failed to mention any of our major concerns.
Walmart would be open 24/7. The neighborhoods asked Walmart to limit its hours because the site is so close to residential areas. Our Ward 6 Councilman, Steve Kozachik, and the Tucson City Council made the same request. (Home Depot closes at 10 p.m., Target at 11 p.m. The Walmart at 455 E. Wetmore Road closes at midnight.)
But Walmart refused.
Instead of facing the main road, the store’s main entrance would face homes just 250 feet away. Former department-store occupants, Levy’s and Macy’s, had many entrances, shorter hours and less traffic.
The neighborhoods, Kozachik and the City Council all have asked Walmart to reorient its entrance toward Broadway. Walmart refused.
This is what we can expect if we let Walmart do our urban planning for us. Walmart is not invested in the communities where it does business.
Walmart sells liquor (until 2 a.m.) in combination with guns and ammunition (until 10 p.m.).
Walmarts are notorious for attracting crime, which can spill over into adjacent neighborhoods.
Walmart reportedly treats its employees badly. It has questionable business practices. But those criticisms apply wherever they build and are beyond our reach as residents. By the way, it is building another store just four miles away.
El Con announced its plans to demolish the Levy’s/Macy’s building whether or not Walmart would be moving in, so the demolition itself is not a signal that Walmart is actually going ahead.
Our neighborhood association (El Encanto) is waiting for Judge Jeffrey Bergin to issue a ruling on the Planning and Development Services Department’s approval of a Walmart at the site. Our legal position is that any “protected development rights” granted to El Con Mall in 2000 have expired.
Therefore the big-box ordinance must apply. This city-wide ordinance gives residents a voice in big-box store approval at a particular site and gives the City Council the power to decide. It was passed in 1999 following a major citizen-driven campaign that started when Walmart tried to move into El Con the first time.
The Tucson City Council and the staff recognized then that big-box stores were a new type of commerce with potentially negative impacts on their surroundings.
Last week the city of Tucson released a video, “Banking on History,” which makes the argument that “preservation of Tucson’s heritage architecture helps to drive economic development.”
Five historic neighborhoods in midtown Tucson oppose an El Con Walmart: Colonia Solana, El Encanto, El Montevideo, Sam Hughes and San Clemente.
And yet the public has had no opportunity to air these issues in hearings in front of our City Council, and the City Council has not had the opportunity to vote. We have been fighting for – and we will continue to fight for – our public process rights.
Chris Tanz, Cathy Davis, Frank Babb live near El Con Mall.
An attorney for residents of the El Encanto neighborhood argued any special deals the city made to allow a Walmart at El Con Mall expired years ago, and the planned supercenter must fully comply with the city zoning code.
Background: In June 2011, the Zoning Administrator approved development plans for a 24-hour Walmart at El Con Mall. In September, the Board of Adjustment incorrectly upheld this decision.
IMPORTANT: The City Council has NOT approved the Wal-Mart development plan. In fact, the issue has not been brought before the City Council, contrary to the requirements of the Big Box Ordinance which was passed in 1999, after a city-wide citizens’ campaign. We are going to court to restore our rights to a public process.
El Con has announced that demolition of the former Macy’s Building will begin on May 10. Please note: this is not an announcement of the beginning of construction of a Wal-Mart store on the site.
Wal-Mart in the News
National & International
Wal-mart PR Officer Posed as Journalist to Spy on Union Workers
Published on Friday, June 15, 2012 by Common Dreams
Published: April 21, 2012
The New York Times
“Confronted with evidence of widespread corruption in Mexico, top Wal-Mart executives focused more on damage control than on rooting out wrongdoing, an examination by The New York Times found…”
Published: April 29, 2012
The New York Times
“In Los Angeles, a Wal-Mart building permit is getting a once-over. In New York, the City Council is investigating a possible land deal with the retailer’s developer in Brooklyn. A state senator in California is pushing for a formal audit of a proposed Wal-Mart in San Diego. And in Boston and its suburbs, residents are pressuring politicians to disclose whether they have received contributions from the company…”
Published: April 24
“Wal-Mart, the giant retailer now under fire over allegations of foreign bribery in Mexico, has participated in an aggressive and high-priced lobbying campaign to amend the long-standing U.S. anti-bribery law that the company might have violated…”
Published: May 3, 2012
The New York Times
“One of the nation’s largest pension plans filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing Wal-Mart’s leadership of breaching its fiduciary duty in connection with a bribery scandal at the retailer’s Mexican subsidiary.”
02 May 2012
By Jim Hightower, Truthout | Op-Ed
“Wal-mart has long boasted of its “Always Low Prices,” but now it has confirmed that it also has “Always low morals.”
Wal-Mart at El Con
Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Friday, October 28, 2011 12:00 am
Homeowners in a historic neighborhood near El Con have sued the city of Tucson to try to head off a proposed Walmart supercenter there.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday, representing 150 homes in the adjacent El Encanto Estates Neighborhood Association, contends the city’s Board of Adjustment erred in determining a 108,120-square-foot, 24-hour Walmart can move into the space of the former Levy’s department store on the west end of the mall..
August 25, 2011 – El Con Mall has announced that the demolition of the old Macy’s building will be postponed until 2012 due to legal challenges by El Encanto Homeowners. Their original teardown date was summer of 2011.
September 28, 2011. The City of Tucson’s Board of Adjustment heard our appeal of the approval of Walmart’s development plans by the City’s Planning and Development Services Department.
The Arizona State Legislature passed a new law during the 2011 session that supports our position that the Zoning Administrator’s approval of Wal-Mart’s plans was incorrect.
Since the beginning of this controversy, our position has been that approval of Wal-Mart’s plans requires compliance with public hearing, citizen input and other requirements of the LUC, including the “Big Box Ordinance.”
The Zoning Administrator ruled that such approval is not required because of the “protected development rights” provisions of the City and El Con Mall’s February 2000 Development Agreement. On July 26 we appealed his ruling to the Board of Adjustment. Our legal position is that these provisions expired several years ago pursuant to specific provisions in the LUC and the Arizona Statutes.
The Zoning Administrator also held that the proposed Wal-Mart store conforms to the Conceptual Development Plan (CDP) contained in the Development Agreement that shows a Robinson’s May store, a typical department store. The CDP does not depict just “any large retail establishment.” Under the LUC a Wal-Mart store and a typical department store are in different retail categories and therefore the proposed store does not conform to the CDP.
The Zoning Administrator relied on his interpretation that the Wal-Mart plan complies with the CDP because it is within the footprint of the Robinson’s May store. Under this logic a ten-story tower built within the footprint and utilizing no more than 291,000 square feet would comply with the CDP and a grocery store, an automobile dealership or a medical marijuana dispensary among other types of businesses would meet the definition of a “retail store.”
On August 24 our counsel supplemented our July 26 filing to bring to the attention of the Board of Adjustment a recently adopted Arizona statute. A. R. S. §9-834 states “[a] municipality shall not base a licensing decision in whole or in part on a licensing requirement or condition that is not specifically authorized by statute, rule, ordinance or code.”
The term “licensing” is defined broadly and includes actions such as the City of Tucson’s approval of Wal-Mart’s plan. The City’s decision that the proposed Wal-Mart is an allowable use was not authorized by any “statute, rule, ordinance or code” as required by A. R. S. §9-834 and is therefore contrary to Arizona law.
For these reasons we believe the City erred by approving the development plan for the proposed Wal-Mart store without requiring compliance with applicable LUC provisions.
A hearing with the Board of Adjustment on this appeal is scheduled for 1:30pm on September 28 in the Mayor & Council Chambers, City Hall, first floor, 255 West Alameda.
At the Board of Adjustment hearing we intend to present the testimony of Matt Kowta, M. C. P. an expert in City and Regional Planning, as to why the proposed Wal-Mart Store fails to substantially conform to the CDP.
Copies of our appeal and the opinion of our City and Regional Planning expert can be found on the Legal Challenge page.