Archive for Wednesday, August 23, 2000

Bonner OKs super center for Wal-Mart

August 23, 2000

In about a year, Wal-Mart shoppers in Bonner Springs will be wheeling down the aisles in a new super center.

By a 6-2 vote, the Bonner Springs City Council Monday night approved the zoning for a Wal-Mart Super Center to be constructed near the southeast corner of Kansas Avenue and Kansas Highway 7.

And, by a 5-3 vote, the council approved Wal-Mart's development plans and plat for the new store.

The existing Wal-Mart store, located across K-7 from the site of the new store, will be sold.

Weldon Padgett, Bonner Springs city manager, said about 200 people attended the council meeting, which was held at the high school.

Padgett said it was his impression that the people in the audience seemed to be slightly leaning in favor of Wal-Mart.

"I base that on the two rounds of applause that followed the end of each presentation," Padgett said.

Dan Denk, a Kansas City, Kan., attorney representing Wal-Mart, spoke after Price Banks, a Lawrence attorney representing the Bonner Springs Improvement Association.

"The thing's moved awfully fast," Price said. "This is a development project that has set a record in terms of speed from the time it was set to the time it was approved."

Banks said he was "shocked and surprised" that the city accepted Wal-Mart's plans.

"They have partnered, or agreed to partner with Wal-Mart to effect a taking of adjacent properties," Banks said.

Part of the development plan, Banks said, is to lower the grade on the 19 acres purchased by Wal-Mart. This will enable the store to flatten the site.

"But they're lowering the site to such a degree that the grade of Kansas Avenue needs to be lowered," Banks said. "And their development plan actually shows considerable construction work on the properties north of Kansas Avenue.

The north end of the Wal-Mart property will wind up being about 17 feet lower than it is now, and Kansas Avenue will be lowered about 11 feet, Banks said.

"In order to accommodate that, Wal-Mart has the city condemning through imminent domain the private properties on the north side of Kansas Avenue.

Affected will be two churches and two residences, Banks said. He said that means that while the city renovates Kansas Avenue and Wal-Mart is being constructed, traffic will be temporarily detoured across the private property.

"They'll have the road going through these people's front lawns," he added.

Banks said he was directed to make the first presentation, followed by a presentation by Wal-Mart's attorney, Dan Denk. Presentations were limited to 10 minutes.

Because Wal-Mart made the second presentation, Banks said he felt that gave Wal-Mart the upper hand.

"That left Wal-Mart with a hammer and then the majority of the questions from the council members were directed at Wal-Mart, so it creates a situation similar to the last planning commission meeting where it's Wal-Mart's show."

Denk, the attorney representing Wal-Mart, was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Padgett said one positive feature of the council's approval is that the city's infrastructure in the area will be enhanced.

"This includes water, sewer and streets which hopefully will lead to further development in that area," Padgett said.

Earlier, Denk had said that, pending approval by the city council, Wal-Mart would begin construction this fall.

Construction is expected to take about nine months.

"Barring any unforseen changes, the store would be probably opening sometime around this time next year," Padgett said.

The $15 million Super Center will encompass about 160,000 square feet and will provide 325 jobs.

Bonner Springs has a population of about 7,100 and covers an area of 18 square miles.

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