Last night the Conway Planning Commission meeting included a public hearing for the conditional use of an R-1 to be used for PUD. What that actually means is building a Wal-Mart “Neighborhood Market” on the lot between the Presbyterian Church and Tucker Creek Trail Extension (park/pedestrian path) on Prince. It may be helpful to people to recall that this is the church next to the high school.
I'll outline some details and provide some depth below, but before I bore those with short attention span I will give a quick recap. Full disclosure: I attended the meeting to speak out against the Wal-Mart, and do not want the Wal-Mart there. This is not to provide some 'unbiased' coverage of events, but rather provide you the explanation for my opinion. This is not a news story, it's just one of your community members talking about life in common. We would like to hear from you as well, use the comments, contact forms or become a contributor (link).
I happened to catch a glimpse of the Cabin and see that the meeting was Monday at 7 (that night). Although I already had a meeting to attend I decided that having a Wal-Mart in the neighborhood was too great of an impact and I should attend to speak up. I had honestly thought there was a chance I'd be one of the only ones there to speak out against this conditional use. On the contrary I found an audience of around 20 people in attendance, at least 10 must have spoken on the various negative impacts this would have on the community surrounding the Wal-Mart. The issues brought up will be discussed below, but essentially it feels as though the commissioners seemed to really only consider the noise impact on the neighboring church and traffic as issues at hand and thus moved forward with setting the conditions. The public hearing portion ends after anyone wanting to speak has been given 2 minutes, after this the commissioners voted (I believe 6 – 1) to set the conditions. There is not public involvement in this portion and after about 20 minutes of watching them work on those conditions I decided to leave – in particular because it is difficult to watch people have a conversation about something you have come to discuss and that affects you (your community) and not be allowed to participate in that discussion. One particularly frustrating aspect was that it felt as though commissioners would ask Wal-Mart representatives if they would accept conditions. For example several neighbors on Prince were in attendance to voice specific concerns for the 24/7 hours of operation. The commissioners brought up the condition that this be changed, but Wal-Mart representatives flatly stated that this wouldn't be changeable. If the proposed project cannot meet conditions necessary to fit the neighborhood perhaps it just isn't an appropriate land-use. Not being able to say that was too much, so I left before the meeting had adjourned. I apologize, but will rely on the news from the Cabin as to the outcome:
“..after two and a half hours of discussion, the commission could not garner enough votes to approve the PUD proposal with two commission members absent. The commission instead chose to table the proposal in order for representatives from Walmart and the church to meet again and work out several issues involving traffic, landscaping and the use of an area of Farris Road that has not been constructed yet.”
I'm not entirely sure what this means. At the time of writing the meeting minutes were not available online (will be available here: http://www.conwayplanning.org/pc12/PC12.html ). My main question is, does that mean this issue will have another public hearing at the Planning Commission meeting in April before going to City Council?
Please keep an eye out for announcements related to these meetings, and if what you read here seems like strong reasons not to build a Wal-Mart on Prince please come to that meeting and say your two minutes. It's not much so in order to elaborate all of the negative impacts of the Wal-Mart we will need a fair number of citizens.
Read More to find out why I think the conditional-use permit for the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market on Prince should be denied. Links to some sources/information at the bottom. In particular I will address those issues not associated with the church; I have included some comments and insights of those community members that related more specifically to the points I see as not being sufficiently considered.