Walmart makes Ball Road application in Blaine

After two years of on again and off again public discussion, Walmart submitted an application to construct a 183,000 square-foot store on the north side of Ball Road (right side of this photo) near the I-35W and Lexington Avenue interchange in Blaine. Photo by Eric Hagen

After two years of on again and off again public discussion, Walmart submitted an application to construct a 183,000 square-foot store on the north side of Ball Road (right side of this photo) near the I-35W and Lexington Avenue interchange in Blaine. Photo by Eric Hagen

It has been almost two years since more than 70 residents came to a Blaine City Council workshop to oppose a rumored Walmart. After on and off again public discussion, Walmart submitted an application for the project Nov. 8 and public meetings have been scheduled.

According to Community Development Director Bryan Schafer, Walmart is proposing to construct a 183,000 square-foot store near the I-35W and Lexington Avenue interchange and on the north side of Ball Road.

During previous public discussions, the city had heard about the possibility of an additional 24,900 square feet of retail, office, bank or restaurant uses separate from the big box store, but Schafer said the application only noted the rest of the property as outlots for future development.

A garden center is included, but no automotive repair, he said.

Walmart would like this store to be open 24 hours, but that would be a council decision, Schafer said.

Ball Road would be reconstructed and include a concrete median that would go just past a new roundabout at Hupp Street, he said.

The city posted an update on its website Nov. 15 to note that Walmart’s application has been submitted and to notify the public of the review schedule.

A neighborhood open house will be held Tuesday, Dec. 3 from 5-7 p.m. in the Blaine City Hall atrium. Public notice for this meeting will be sent on or about Nov. 22.

The next forum will be at the Dec. 10 Blaine Planning Commission meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. Walmart’s proposed subdivision and conditional use permit request will get a public hearing and the commission could make a recommendation to the council.

The council will not review the preliminary plat and conditional use permit until Jan. 16, 2014 at the earliest. This issue could always be tabled, but the council is required to act within 120 days of the city receiving the application, so by early March 2014.

Cathy Harrison, one of the organizers of the non-profit Citizens for Smart Growth organization, said “we’re disappointed” on learning about the application.

A point Harrison wants to get across to their elected officials and the public is that some individuals may not care for Walmart, but the group as a whole has never been “anti-Walmart,” she said.

“Our issues are not about Walmart,” Harrison said. “Our issue is it’s a wrong fit for the area.”

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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