Newsflash reported May 15, 2003 that the Blue Springs, Missouri Planning Commission had voted down a Wal-Mart supercenter. The city already has a current Wal-Mart discount store, but they wanted a supercenter. That vote then went to the City Council on June 2nd, and the decision was upheld by a 4-3 vote, with the tie-breaking vote cast by Mayor Greg Grounds. The vote came after 5 hours of debate on the controversial project at the corner of Route 7 and Moreland School road. When asked by The Examiner newspaper one week later about his critical vote against Wal-Mart, Mayor Grounds said: “I’m sleeping well. You can’t be in office and be runnning scared of making a decision.” The Mayor reported that around 80% of the response to his decision had been supportive, and only 20% against him. The Mayor made it clear that his vote was not against Wal-Mart in the abstract, but against the intensity of this plan, and its 24 hour proposed operations. After failing to win approval in Blue Springs, a Wal-Mart spokesman was quoted as saying: “The one fact that hasn’t changed is we have a store now in Blue Springs that is undersized. The only question now is where.”
No doubt Wal-Mart will be back with another Blue Springs supercenter proposal, and if they open the superstore, the original discount store will likely shut down. But this case illustrates that public officials can oppose a location as unsuitable, without having to be labeled as “anti-Wal-Mart.” In this instance, the Mayor wanted the company to know that the scale was just wrong — and he broke the tie to make it perfectly clear.