Wal-Mart has never been very sensitive to what a zoning map says, and once again a local Planning commission has had to remind the company there is a vast difference between residential and commercial land. The Yankton, South Dakota Planning Commission this week refused to rezone 14 acres of land from multi-family residential to business. This recommendation will go to the City Council on September 22nd, where residents hope the plan will be rejected with similar dispatch. Yankton already has a Wal-Mart discount store, but this proposal is for a 195,000 s.f. superstore. Neighbors said the scale of the store would turn Fox Run into a “life of poor quality living” according to the Press & Dakotan newspaper. Wal-Mart told the city there “were many reasons why we couldn’t expand the current store,” but residents had just as many reasons why the proposed site was the worst available. The company told neighbors their lots would be buffered. “This is not a residential subdivision,” the Wal-Mart spokesman tried to argue. “What we’re buying is a field.” But Commission board member Dan Rupiper sided with the homeowners, saying he didn’t feel the city should reward Wal-Mart at the expense of city residents. One of the neighbors, Cynthia Filips, told Wal-Mart: “I know you feel this is the ideal place to build your store. But there are more than 40 families who feel this is an ideal place to live.” It is very possible now that Wal-Mart’s “field” will turn into a “field of dreams”.
The land Wal-Mart wants rezoned has been residential for the past six years. If the city rezones this parcel, it will be more than just changing a field. It will be compromising the investment of all the families who moved to Fox Run. It would be better to make Wal-Mart run, than to kill the Fox. Wal-Mart already has a store in Yankton, and brings no added value economically to the city at this point. It is likely to shut down its existing store, leaving an empty property that could lose economic value for the city. Wal-Mart already has nearly 400 “dead stores” on the market, they don’t need to create more.