Petition Hopes to Stop Zoning Decision
A Bella Vista group called Citizens for Responsible Development is gathering signatures to stop the rezoning of a residential area to commercial.
“We want them to stop the process and to reconsider the zoning change, reconsider what they do on Oldham,” says Group Chairman Tony LiCausi.
“The zoning ordinance is set up to be the best use of that land, not a particular company best use but best use on our classification on zoning,” adds Bella Vista Mayor Frank Anderson.
There have been several city council meetings where Walmart proposed putting a Neighborhood Market in that location.
The planning commission recently voted to change the zoning to commercial.
“How can anyone really in their right mind believe that the best use of that land when 2/3 already zoned commercial, that the last 1/3 up the hill is best use of it residential,” says Anderson.
And the group says the city council avoided public opinion on the issue.
“Apparently they knew that they were going to get a lot of opposition because of instead of having it where they normally have it, they chose to have it Riordan Hall, so the planning commission knew that there would be a big outcry,” says LiCausi.
“We`ve all tried to go to the meetings and we all get the feeling that the decision was made a long time before the people showed up protesting against this,” adds Carol Soule
“People don’t usually have the choose unless the council’s willing to listen to them, and it appears that it`s pretty sure that the minds were made up before we even heard about it,” says Harry Newby.
Anderson says during those meetings the council does not allow a question and answer period.
“We don’t get into general debate, what our ordinances say or that is we will listen to anything that wants us to talk about in the City Council meeting. Listen.”
Some who live in the area are worried the project will bring more traffic congestion.
“It was already said by the Sheriff that this was the most dangerous intersection around, that it`s just too dangerous,” says Soule.
Walmart released the following statement Wednesday:
“Following the 5-1 city council vote to re-zone Mrs. Garcia’s property, we continue our due diligence on the site in the hopes of bringing a new Walmart Neighborhood Market to Bella Vista. We think our store fits within the city’s existing land use plan, will help generate much needed revenue and most of all, serve as a solution for residents who want more affordable grocery options close to where they live and work,” says Chirs Neeley, Director, Walmart Public Affairs.