Size matters. A citizen’s Coalition has formed in Colorado Springs, Colorado to prevent the construction of a 207,000 s.f. Wal-Mart Supercenter, and they’re getting some help from city planners. The group, the Soaring Eagles Community Coalition, says their goal “is to preserve the safety of our children and our selves, the quality of our lives, and the values of our community and our investment. We believe a big box store, such as the anticipated Wal-Mart Supercenter, would completely obliterate the values that we hold dear in this community.” The City’s Planning Department has released its Initial Review comments on the proposed superstore. Planners are recommending that the size of the store be reduced, and want multiple buildings introduced to minimize the effect on the adjacent residential uses and to implement the original design concepts for the site. Planning staff do not feel the site design offer a “strong sense of place for Soaring Eagles”. Concerns were also raised over the need for more traffic studies, and the issue of traffic that will cut through the residential neighborhoods. City Councilman Richard Skorman told The Gazette newspaper, “There’s been a lot of talk (nationwide) about big-box stores and how they’ve become these huge eyesores.” He said the idea of several smaller stores instead of one huge store “sounds like it’s a valid one. It’s a way to make it fit in (to the neighborhood).” The 1998 concept plan for this commercial property was for hotels, office buildings, and restaurants, not big box stores. The residents who bought homes in the area did so with that understanding. The city’s Planning Department is suggesting that a Wal-Mart on this site would be a “major use change… It is staff’s opinion that the site was not intended for one free-standing building of significant bulk and mass.” Councilor Margaret Radford, who represents the area, told the newspaper that “Soaring Eagles is the jewel of residential development in my district. It shows the southeast side deserves really high-quality housing and high-quality living. I don’t want the commercial piece developed poorly.” The irony here: Wal-Mart already has five stores in Colorado Springs. Another store brings no added value to the economy or the community — whether its one store, or broken into little bitty parts.
The Coalition last week gave city officials the names of 600 residents who oppose this project, and the local PTO for the Soaring Eagles Elementary School has also voted to oppose the Wal-Mart. The Coalition needs residents to sign their petition to allow the Soaring Eagles Community Coalition to represent the community, instead of the Soaring Eagles Homeowner’s Association, which is run by Warren Management. To sign the petition, residents can contact Corey Hepworth at 291-5068 or Evelyn Campbell at 392-1884 . The group’s website http://www.soaringeaglescc.com/, also includes a sample letter to the editor, and a plea for donations. In asking for a $40 donation, the group explains, “That’s about the cost of a sweater, as opposed to the potential 20% depreciation of your home.” Anyone who wants to help this group fight Wal-Mart, checks are payable to Soaring Eagles Community Coalition. The funds should be mailed to: Soaring Eagles Community Coalition, PO Box 18101, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80935.