It may be warm in Texas hill country, but Wal-Mart officials got the cold shoulder this week, as city officials in Helotes, Texas put the retailer’s plans for a superstore temporarily on ice. According to the San Antonio Express-News, the City Council voted to impose a moratorium on a proposed superstore to give the city time to have a traffic study conducted. The site, along the Scenic Loop Road, has stimulated strong opposition in this community. More than 300 people came to a special meeting called by the Council, and most of them were against Wal-Mart’s plans. “You have to realize that a lot of animosity out here from citizens of Helotes is we just don’t want Wal-Mart out here,” said Jon Allan, of the Helotes Heritage Association. After the public testimony was taken, the City Council went into executive session for an hour and a half before coming back out and ordering the moratorium. Wal-Mart presented residents with a slide show called “A New Wal-Mart Custom Fit For Your Neighborhood.” But residents didn’t want to try it on for size. Instead, more than 3,000 Helotes residents have signed petitions opposing the Wal-Mart, custom fit or not. Residents complained about impact on the local environment, pollution runoff into the Helotes Creek and Edwards Aquifer and traffic problems. The Express-News says that two other groups joined the Associaton, the Save Our Springs Alliance of Austin and the Aquifer Guardians of Urban Areas. The groups filed a notice of intent to sue in federal court against Helotes officials. This same alliance is credited with stopping a Wal-Mart two years ago in Austin. Citizens have the right to file an “intent to sue” under provisions of the Federal Clean Water Act.
For an earlier story on Helotes, Texas, search this Newsflash page by the name of the city. The moratorium in Helotes is just a pause in the action, but citizen anger has clearly had an initial impact on city officials.