According to Board of Alderman (BOA) meeting discussion on July 2, the aldermen who voted for Ordinance 5453-13 that creates a special Planned Zoning Overlay District for Walmart Neighbor Market (WNM) do NOT want to rescind the ordinance. Even though Wal-Mart has pulled its sales contract, these aldermen seem to think that rescinding this zoning district is “going backwards”.
Mayor Bower said Wal-Mart spent over $100,000 and sees no reason for another developer to recreate the design. But what about the more than $250,000 of taxpayer dollars that has already been spent on Planning, Zoning and Economic Development commission meetings, the huge volunteer effort that engaged about 300 people and the city staff expertise and labor that went into creating the Central Business Design Standard that everybody could agree on?
In his Raytown Times’ Letter to the Editor of June 26, Alderman Creamer’s comparative analysis of the Walmart Neighborhood Markets in Blue Springs, MO, and Overland Park, KS, fails completely because not one of those stores is located in the downtown of their respective city!
Alderman Ertz thinks it sends a bad message to developers if the city rescinds zoning. Aldermen Van Buskirk and Mock claim the zoning district needs to remain if we hope to have any kind of anchor development and so a future developer will not have to start all over. Alderman Melson agrees with them all.
On the contrary, serious developers of a town square will not be interested in the Planned Zoning Overlay District created exclusively for WNM. For one, the huge parking lot is a big turn off. And developers will not make a huge investment on a property in a City where the zoning can be arbitrarily changed for the benefit of one private interest. Developers must be assured that their property will maintain its property values with a zoning district that remains in place to protect them from neighbors who don’t meet the zoning design standards.
We don’t understand why Mayor Bower traveled to Bentonville to plead with Wal-Mart to come back to Raytown. Our City should be issuing an RFP immediately to invite quality town square development. The last RFP was issued in March of 2010. No wonder the space has been sitting undeveloped for years.
We have maintained from the very beginning that the Walmart Neighborhood site plan is bad urban planning because it does not make the full use of the land and, consequently, will never generate its full capacity of sales and property taxes to benefit all the tax jurisdictions. To put it bluntly, anybody who allows the development of a big box store in our downtown instead of high density development will be directly cheating our school district, police department, fire district, parks dept. and city for years to come.
To make matters worse, the impending lawsuit by former Mayor Sue Frank alleges that the BOA unlawfully gave its legislative power to a private interest by entering into a “contract zoning” agreement instead of ensuring the life, health and property values of the citizens of Raytown. It would seem to be in the best interest of the City for the BOA to rescind an unlawful and unconstitutional zoning overlay district.
SECOND READING FOR RESCINDING ORDINANCE 5453-13 IS JULY 16TH!