Sam's Club will have to wait an extra couple of months before it plants a 140,000-square-foot outpost next to CityPlace. So decided the City Plan Commission, which this afternoon moved consideration of the development plan until July 22.
It was a victory for neighbors, albeit a tiny one. As we mentioned yesterday, the zoning was quietly slipped into place a year ago. The main focus of the Plan Commission's deliberations today was whether public comments could be accepted when it was serving a "ministerial function," i.e. approving a development plan that complies with existing zoning.
The answer from city legal staff and Plan Commission Chair Gloria Tarpley was no. Instead, Tarpley called on the several dozen neighbors in the audience -- about half wearing the day's uniform of a red T-shirt, more wearing "No Mega Store" stickers," one clad in a bike helmet -- to stand in a show of opposition.
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Three business types at the back stood in support.
In the lobby afterward, Councilman Adam Medrano declined to take a stance on the Sam's project but said the delay was a good move. Talk among the neighbors, meanwhile, focused on strategy. How to jiu jitsu their way into a position of leverage now that they have 60 days to organize? There's no clear way to do that, but there were lots of mention of the phrase "bait and switch."
That's how the president of the nearby Belmont Park Neighborhood Association described the process. He was among the neighbors whom developers courted when they were going through the rezoning process more than a year ago. Then, they were promised East Village, a walkable, urban complement to West Village on the other side of Central. Had they read the fine print and and understood that East Village would include a Sam's Club, they wouldn't have told Pauline Medrano to approve the zoning.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.