Bella Vista’s Planning Commission voted Monday night on a controversial topic, which had both sides of the issue heated with strong opinions.
The commission voted unanimously to approve the property on U.S. 71 and Oldham Drive into commercial property.
The property in question is 6.2 acres owned by Betty Garcia and Walmart has its eye on the land.
It wants to build a Walmart Neighborhood Market. However, many don’t welcome a business such as the retail giant in that location.
Bella Vista residents packed the Bella Vista Community Church to listen and express publicly their position on the issue.
Those against it said the intersection is already dangerous, accidents are a problem, and more traffic flow will just make the situation worse.
“It’s a disaster… traffic is pathetic down there,” Art Hamilton said.
A minority in the room said business means more money for Bella Vista.
“If we get a building, we’ll have real estate taxes, sales taxes and personal property,” Dave McCabe said.
Walmart representatives said, even though construction for a store isn’t approved yet, they are happy with the commission’s vote.
“From a Walmart perspective, we are closely watching and following this. We would like to propose a Walmart Neighborhood Market here, if it is officially rezoned,” Chris Neeley, director for public affairs, said.
The decision will head to the City Council for a final vote. City councilman Earl Berdine said they will continue to listen to different view points on the topic.
“The City Council will consider all of the comments and all of the pertinent facts,” Berdine said.
He did want to remind Bella Vista residents that the issue at this point is the rezoning of the property from residential to commercial and not the construction of a Walmart store.
The Bella Vista Planning Commission’s recommendation is expected to be discussed in June 25th City Council meeting.
If it’s approved, the Walmart construction proposal will be the next step.