Wal-Mart lost another battle this week in Jefferson, Wisconsin. The city’s Common Council voted 5-3 to reject the annexation fo two pieces of land proposed for a supercenter. The Jefferson Plan Commission had unanimously recommended the annexation, and temporarily designated both parcels as business-in-highway neighborhood commercial district. Wal-Mart also had the support of the Jefferson Development Commission. Wal-Mart has been trying to build in Jefferson for at least three years. Sprawl-Busters spoke in Jefferson in January of 2003, urging local officials to reject the annexation. The superstore was slated to be around 150,000 s.f. and was directly across the highway from one of the city’s major grocery stores. One Alderman said she was uncomfortable with the “temporary zoning” designation recommended for the parcel, in the absence of a specific development agreement from any business. “The majority of the people said this is not about Wal-Mart; this is about annexation,” the Alderman was quoted as saying by the Daily Jefferson County Union. “If this is about annexation, then let’s keep it zoned the way it is zoned so we have that little bit more of control of whoever would come in to that property.” The Council vote came after roughly one hour of public hearing on the matter. Ironically, the city’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, written in 1998, says the city should “discourage poorly-planned, incremental strip commercial development along major community entryways.” Although the Mayor of Jefferson was taken with the Wal-Mart idea, his constituents have pointed out that the City’s Plan calls for strengthening “the retail power of established commercial areas by discouraging new unplanned commercial developments on the city’s fringes.” Land use planners have discouraged “large, bulky, box-like structures” and “speculative rezonings” on the fringes of the community.
For the story of my visit to Jefferson in January of 2003, search this database by “Jefferson.” 400 people came to hear me speak in Jefferson, and the Mayor of this city had some very unpleasant things to say about me. For now, the failure to annex the land will keep Wal-Mart out, but this story may not be over.