It's Wal-Mart 3, neighbors 0

2012-08-28T06:00:00Z 2012-11-27T17:17:10Z It's Wal-Mart 3, neighbors 0By NANCY HICKS / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

Wal-Mart, which had already begun grading work near 27th Street and Grainger Parkway, received its building permit Monday. That allows the company to begin construction on a new store despite persisting neighborhood objections.

“We do have the permit, and we are really excited to begin construction of the store and to begin serving our customers in south Lincoln as soon as possible,” Delia Garcia, media director for Wal-Mart West, said Monday evening.

But the neighborhood group that has come out on the losing end of every argument with Wal-Mart so far is not giving up, said Michaela Maglalang of the Stone Ridge Estates Homeowners Association.

Leaders have written Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke and will be taking their argument for changing the entrance-exit roadway design to the Lincoln City Council.

But, so far, it’s Wal-Mart 3, neighbors 0.

Over objections, Wal-Mart said it wouldn't change the site or build a smaller store at the location. It declined to provide additional drainage and landscaping to shield neighboring homes from noise.

Most recently, the neighborhood association asked for a change in the roadway design, prohibiting any entry or exit onto Grainger Parkway.

The answer appears to be no, though the retailer first told the neighborhood association in a July 19 letter that the city, not Wal-Mart, had the authority to make the change.

City administrators now say Wal-Mart has the final call, and Wal-Mart is not interested in changing the site's roadway design first approved in the early 2000s and reaffirmed this winter in planning documents.

The design calls for access to the store's parking lot from both Jamie Lane and Grainger Parkway.

Wal-Mart says it is important to have dual access for both convenience and safety, Garcia said.

Changing access now, without Wal-Mart's approval, raises legal questions for the city, said Marvin Krout, planning director.

Public Works staff believe access off Grainger is appropriate, and that it will not send a lot of traffic through the neighborhood, said Miki Esposito, director of the Public Works and Utilities Department.

If the concern is safety and cut-through traffic, then adding designs to slow traffic -- speed bumps, signs or narrowing the street -- could be effective.

Esposito said she hopes to work with the neighborhood group on "calming" traffic designs, with Wal-Mart paying the added cost.

The association late last week sent a certified letter to Wal-Mart's CEO, laying out the issues to make sure he was aware of neighborhood concerns,  Maglalang said.

The association is hoping the Lincoln City Council will step in and require the store to change the entrance and exit design. The association expects people to speak at the council's Sept. 10 meeting.

Reach Nancy Hicks at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com.

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