The Bossier City-Parish Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) meeting on Monday (June 13) has 8 agenda items dealing with the proposed new north Bossier Wal-Mart. This hearing will probably be standing room only,—and the votes by the MPC will then head to the Bossier City Council. This proposed development has created the largest citizen outcry in this decade by a city known to be very very business friendly,—so much that private citizens believe that their interests are frequently ignored.
The Oden family owns a substantial tract that fronts on Airline and Wemple road that they hope to develop much like the Target/Sams commercial area just north of I-220 and Airline. The first effort is the proposed transaction with the Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust (WMREB) and the MPC applications have created a storm of opposition that Wal-Marts have experienced in other locations throughout the nation. Specifically the WMREB has the following items up for vote on Monday: to change zoning classification from residential agriculture to B-3 General Business for a Walmart Supercenter and Fueling Station, for preliminary plat approval for the Wal-Mart Wemple Commercial Development Subdivision, an application for an exterior lighting review of the proposed Walmart Supercenter, an application for a Conditional Use Approval for 24 hour operation of the proposed Walmart Supercenter, an application for Conditional Use Approval for the sale of high and low content alcohol for off premise consumption at the proposed Walmart Supercenter, a Conditional Use Approval for the sale of low content alcohol for off premise consumption at the proposed Walmart Fuel Station, a landscape review for the proposed Walmart Supercenter as well as a landscape review of the proposed Walmart Fuel Station.
The new store would be located approximately 3 miles north of the existing Walmart Supercenter on Airline, which naturally has lead to many questions as to the future of the existing location if the new SuperCenter is approved. Bossier has already experienced the major closing of a commercial center on Benton Road near the overpass when the Kroger Market Place opened and the Kroger at that center. A Walmart spokesman declined to directly answer that closing issue, only stating that the new proposed Supercenter was a completely separate market—the growth north of I-220.
An MPC spokesman indicated that 2 major planning concerns were drainage in that area if the development is approved along with additional traffic on Airline Drive. WMREB is to present their proposals on drainage and traffic at Monday’s meeting, which should include the $64 question—who is to pay for any remedial efforts to alleviate the negative impacts of the development on both drainage and traffic. Neighborhood opposition has also focused on potential declines in values of personal homes and a possible increase in crime.
After the MPC votes, the Walmart circus will then move to the Bossier City Council for final approval. The Council recently voted to annex the 99 acres that includes the land intended for the Supercenter. This vote was taken after the Council had previously voted to de-annex this tract due to citizens. Eventually, this dispute could end up in the courts.
John E. Settle, Jr.
Bossier City, LA