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Residents Respond To Walmart At Plymouth Meeting

More than 50 people attended the Oct. 10 public meeting at Four Seasons Mall in Plymouth.

It was an evening of give and take, back and forth.

"Let us show you what we can do," said Walmart spokesperson Lisa Nelson.

Nelson said this to the gathered crowd of citizens at the Oct. 10 public meeting the company held at the Four Seasons Mall where it would like to open a new Walmart Supercenter.

Walmart owns the 21-acre property off Highway 169 in Plymouth. It has not proposed a plan for the site nor has it submitted any kind of application to the city for working on the site.

And many of the public at the meeting were hard press to find a reason to want a Walmart at the redevelopment site.

Nelson said the meeting was a chance for Walmart to find out what people were thinking, their concerns, questions and use that feedback in creating any possible proposal or plan it could bring forth to the city. 

On display at the meeting were possible site plans, how the property would look if Walmart built on the site and other visuals of what Walmart could bring to the neighborhood.

The meeting started out as an open house where people could walk around and look at the possible site plans and talk to project team members present. Then Nelson gathered people for a brief presentation that ended in an impromptu question and answer session.

Many of those present were skeptical of Walmart being able to build on the property and asked a variety of questions about traffic, safety, economics, storm water drainage, wetland work, spacing issues with parking and the site in general, proximity to the residential area, if there is a need for a Walmart at that location and much more.

Many people wondered why Walmart bought the property when the site is not zoned for that type of business. The Plymouth City Council would have to approve rezoning the area when or if an application is brought before it.

Walmart project team members said that the company looks at where there aren't Walmarts and determined it doesn't have much presence in the west metro. Since the former Four Seasons site had been a shopping center it is intended as such and lends itself to commercial retail, said Walmart officials.

Some of the public retaliated that the Walmart would serve everyone else except the neighborhood it was in. But Nelson said Walmart has a great track record as a responsible neighbor in many communities.

Council members Ginny Black, Bob Stein and Tim Bildsoe were at the meeting to hear what people were saying and find out more. 

For Black, most of what she heard at the meeting wasn't exactly new.

"Since there is no proposal and nothing coming to city yet the next steps is for Walmart to take the comments from today to figure out what they want to do," Black said, addressing the crowd. "I suggest that those with concerns can work together to make sure you stay involved if and when anything comes forward."

Some people have asked why the city allowed Walmart to buy the property in the first place. Since it is part of the business of commerce like any city, there is nothing the city could do about who the previous owner sold to.

"Now like any other business they can go through the same process to move forward and we cannot deny or allow certain businesses to go through that process," Black said. 

Some residents in the surrounding area of Four Seasons Mall said they didn't know about the meeting and weren't notified. Nelson responded that Walmart sent out mailings about the meeting to those in the proximity around the site that is required by law. The list of those residences were provided by the city, she said. 

The public meeting had originally been set for Sept. 26 during Yom Kippur, but when one resident told Walmart this the date was changed to Oct. 10.

Though many present at the meeting expressed opposition to the mere idea of Walmart being at the Four Seasons Mall site, Nelson said she came away from the meeting with a feeling things could still work out for everyone.

"I think it was a good meeting and people were respectful," she said. "Now we can look at how can we work to meet the city's goals, the neighborhood's goals and our goals."

Some residents in their disapproval of having Walmart near them said the company was not looking out for anyone else's interests but its own.

"There is always a way to work together," Nelson said. "We could turn this into something special."

She did not indicate whether or not there would be another public meeting in the near future. The city held its own public meetings last fall during a study on what could be done to redevelop the site. Those details and studies involved can be found here.

(Editor's Note: This is one of a number of stories that have been and will be written about the future redevelopment of the Four Seasons Mall area on Plymouth MN Patch. More updates to this story are forthcoming and will be included here as further work and information develops and becomes available. To stay in the know and get updates:  Follow us on Twitter  |  Like us on Facebook  or  Sign up for our daily newsletter.)

Teresa October 11, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Thanks for sharing Stephanie. Good article, except I don't really think it was a "give and take" scenario last night. It appeared to be a lot of residents who were angry with Walmart for issues that do not relate to Walmart directly. A lot of neighbors showed up to "Walmart bash" and state opinions that were not based on fact. I am glad to see they had the meeting, and I hope they do take the residents' comments into account.
Mark Bomchill October 11, 2012 at 04:29 PM
I agree with Teresa, many came with their personal opinions about Walmart. Several even said they shop Walmart, but would prefer to do so in Maple Grove. I attended last night as a neighbor and an elected official on the Robbinsdale Area School Board. Speaking on my behalf, not that of the board, my concern was about traffic as it concerns to the area between the mall and 36th Ave where 2 schools exist. 4 times a day that area has huge traffic issues when the schools start and end. In addition, there are many young kids walking to and from bus stops in that area. I remained concerned about the traffic in the area as far as congestion but mostly about safety. I found the traffic survey that was done to be speculative and believe a Walmart in that location would produce a sizable traffic increase in that area which young children are often playing, walking, and going to and from school. Before any plans are approved, I would like to see a plan that would prevent Pilgrim Lane from being a route to and from Walmart. Mark Bomchill
Teresa October 12, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Thank you Plymouth Patch!! For reporting about the meeting held last night, and not spinning the story like these guys: http://www.twelve.tv/news/newsitem.aspx?newsid=405&newsitemid=20248
Todd Loisel October 12, 2012 at 05:56 AM
The fact is the majority of residents in the area are not in favor of a big box store at that location. A big box store has a negative impact to the surrounding neighborhood. You can try to come up with solutions to lower the negative impact but the end result will always be a bad situation for people who live in the neighborhood. If they take the residents comments into account they would look into selling the property off because the community in large does not want a big box store. I do not know of any of my neighbors that is in favor of a big box store at that location. I have lived in the neighborhood for over 10 years and have grown to really enjoy the area. It has been a great place to live. I hope it stays that way. Mark the only way I see of preventing Pilgrim Lane from being a route to and from Walmart is making it a toll road. This location just isn't suited for a big box store. If the city re-zones this area it will be a complete mess and they will battling many problems for years to come. Todd Loisel
Steve October 25, 2012 at 02:39 PM
I wish I had known about the meeting. I would have gone and showed my support. I live in Golden Valley and a Walmart close to G.V. would be very beneficial not just for the consumer but for providing jobs.
Mark Bomchill October 25, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Steve, my question to you would be, if it opens at Four Seasons and you needed to get there during rush hour traffic, what route would you take???
fatmata kabba November 24, 2012 at 02:10 PM
I think it wil be a great and an excellent idea for walmart to build at the four seasons mall.Great for younger adults or teenagers to work,or even the elders to work. I leave in the area and I dont think it will be a major problem with traffic flow.Let be open minded and let or see what walmart can bring into Plymouth. I think again that it is beneficial on both sides,walmart and us the neighbors.
Rich January 27, 2013 at 10:42 PM
I rent an apartment at Manor Royal, right next to Four Seasons. Currently, I go all the way up to Maple Grove a couple of times each month to do my shopping at Walmart, as I could not afford to shop at Cub, or even Target. I think it would benefit many people in this area to have a Walmart so close. I read in the above article a comment that suggested that "the Walmart would serve everyone else except the neighborhood it was in." I couldn't disagree more with that statement -- this neighborhood is filled with apartments, condominiums and townhouses -- exactly the demographic that Walmart fits into. Now, I wil agree that the amount of land available at the site may not be adequate for the size of store that Walmart wants to build, and that traffic concerns need to be addressed as well. But I really believe that the true nature of the protest about this stems simply from the Walmart name and the stereotypes that surround it.
Tom Ross April 11, 2013 at 05:30 AM
Mark Bomchill represents me and he is asking the right questions. Most businesses, I would be comfortable with moving into the 4 Seasons Mall, but i have a lot of hesitation about Walmart. Historically, according to this Wikipedia Article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Walmart, they dont' pay their employees well or provide them with affordable health insurance, yet the Six Waltons Have More Wealth Than the Bottom 30% of Americans"http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2011/12/14/six-waltons-have-more-wealth-than-the-bottom-30-of-americans/", whereas many local employers that would be disposed by the economic leverage of Walmart (as is their reputation) work hard to provide for the people of their community. I also am concerned about the level of crime that arises around a Walmart... supposedly by the increased traffic, this is a quiet community and just the increased traffic alone could open opportunities for criminal conduct. convenience isn't everything when it comes to the stability and quiet of a community. When I consider area's nearby areas zoned for these kinds of stores (K-mart's vacated space would work nice) I must wonder as to why a Walmart would want to shoehorn into such a small mall space just blocks away. Lots of questions here, I'm sure in the days to come the officials from Walmart will provide some answers to these questions. I'm glad that Mark Bomchill was representing our neighborhood, asking questions, that's why we elect "local" officials.

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