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Village Board Approve Not Funding Walmart Study

Walmart wants to put a Neighborhood Market near the intersection of Highways 31 and 20, and the proposal is polarizing the community.

**Updated 7:40 pm

Mount Pleasant trustees voted unanimously Monday to not fund a market study for a proposed Walmart Neighborhood Market at the corner of Highways of 31 and 20.

While several trustees and residents, as expected, spoke against the new store, Village Attorney Tim Pruitt pointed out that the village's ordinances make it pretty clear that trustees can't legally deny the proposed use since it complies with zoning.

"One of the reasons you can't deny the proposed use is that the property is already zoned for this particular use," he said. "The second strike is that it’s consistent with the village's comprehensive plan that designates Highway 20 as a commerical corridor."

Only Christopher Ruud from Ruud Lighting/Cree spoke in support of the new store.

"I'm here to speak to other side of the argument relative to the jobs that will be created as a result of the Neighborhood Market going in," he said.

Ruud is vying for the outdoor LED lighting contract for Walmart's Neighborhood Markets and already supplies on a global scale some of the indoor LED lighting as well.

"This new Neighborhood Market will be a showcase for emerging technologies," Ruud added. "To be able to have a store down the street as a showcase is great for credibility for the technology and our business as a whole."

When Walmart first brought their , members voted unanimously that the retail giant provide a third-party market study on how a Neighborhood Market might affect surrounding businesses. , though, was a collection of white papers and surveys Walmart commissioned in markets from other states.

If it were to locate in its desired location, the Neighborhood Market would be the fourth grocery store at that intersection.

Ralph Malicki, owner of the Piggly Wiggly on Washington Avenue, and Greg Schilz, owner of Sentry Foods, commissioned a market study by DJL Research of Waukesha. Basically, the analysis results said placing a Neighborhood Market in that location would eventually prove fatal to both The Pig, Sentry and, potentially, the Pick-n-Save on Rapids Drive.

In February, the on whether or not it would fund a market study. The Commission still has authority over the site plan, which does not require Village Board review or approval.

According to the executive summary provided to board members, village staff is recommending the village not pay for the study. Whether or not this stance is based on two legal opinions from village attorneys remains a question because the opinions have been stamped "attorney/client" privilege.

Why the opinions are not being made part of the record is a good question, Trustee Gary Feest agreed when Patch asked about it. We brought it up because just a few weeks ago, Village Attorney Tim Pruitt was at a board meeting on another matter that required a legal opinion and he presented it in open session.

"I agree that this opinion should be public, but I'm guessing it's because Walmart has deep pockets and we're trying to be careful," he said.

As for why he might support staff's recommendation, Feest says Walmart's Neighborhood Market fits with the zoning.

"My bottom line is that we can't stop them from building there and the market study was a delay tactic at best," he said. "I don't like that they're jumping into the competition but we can dictate how they're there with certain site plan requirements like parking, set backs and landscaping."

Trustee Karen Albeck said she wanted to read the legal opinions in detail before making a decision.

"There is broad sentiment against having a Walmart at that location, but we have to comply with the legal issues," she said.

The Mount Pleasant Village Board meets at 7 pm at Village Hall, 8811 Campus Drive. Call (262) 664-7800.

Heather Asiyanbi May 15, 2012 at 05:41 PM
You're all making valid points, but they aren't interested in going anywhere other than the three locations listed above.
Paul May 16, 2012 at 02:39 PM
The ONLY reason they want that corner is to compete directly with the established, locally-owned businesses. And with Walmart's enormous financial resources and employment policies, those stores are in danger. Walmart has done this over and over again. They have refined a strategy to destroy local competition. The only people that can do anything about this are the customers. Do not shop at Walmart. Remember, every time you buy something from Walmart you are sending part of an American job to China or some other foreign country. You are demonstrating approval of predatory business practices. And you are destroying our local culture. Please, everyone do your research. Walmart is a cancer within our economy. They do nothing to encourage competition. They destroy it. This is their pattern. It is recognized world-wide. Try to imagine a few years from now when you have only one choice for where to shop; namely Walmart. I know I would miss the opportunity to go to a locally-owned store knowing that most of the money I spend there goes directly into our local economy and not to some already over-payed executives and a distant foreign government.
Ruth May 16, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I ask anyone wanting to express approval of adding another Walmart in ANY location in our area to please do your homework first so you can make an informed comment.
Nick RelyLocal Racine May 17, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Well put Paul.......money spent local, stays local!
Michael R Morrison May 17, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Chris Ruud, you wouldn't work for what walmart pays their employees and didn't you just sell out to corporate America yourself, ending a family company

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