Although the final decision will rest with the Town Council, anti-Wal-Mart activists in Harrisburg, North Carolina won a victory this week when the Planning and Zoning Committee voted 7-0 to reject a rezoning of land that would have cleared the way for a Wal-Mart. Here’s the message Sprawl-Busters received from the group Harrisburg First: ” THE GOOD NEWS!!! Tonight, at the Planning and Zoning meeting, the P&Z committee voted 7 out of 7 to reject the Granite Development application, which requested the rezoning of land to C2 in order to construct a Wal-Mart super center and Lowe’s home improvement. We expect Granite to file an appeal, which means we will most likely find this on the agenda for the next Town council meeting (scheduled for Jan 9th), where the final decision will take place. THE ‘NOT’ SO GOOD NEWS…At about 1:30AM the P&Z committee voted “YES” to rezone a second project on 44 acres
across from Town Center to “C2”. This was approved by 6 of the 7 members. However,in order for the developer to move forward with the project, the Planning and Zoning committee must also approve the “Conditional Use” portion of the application. 5 out of the 7 P&Z members approved the “conditional use” portion of the application. Therefore, since they did NOT get a 4/5 approval (i.e. 6 of the 7 votes), the entire application MUST be decided upon by the Town Council. I find it odd that our P&Z committee is willing to vote “yes” on a development project where the “Occupant” of the proposed “Big Box” refuses to allow the developer to announce who they are! Rumors are already starting to fly about the possible occupant of that Big Box. Is it Target? Wal-Mart (Yes, I said Wal-Mart)? Big Lots? Sams Club? Home Depot? Lowe’s Home Improvement? Do we really want someone coming into our town if they are scared to tell us who they are? Look for both of these applications to be decided by the Town Council at their January 9th meeting.
For the time being, Wal-Mart and Lowe’s have suffered a loss in Harrisburg. But many Planning Board votes get undone by Town Councils, which often make decisions based on politics and influence, rather than based on the merits of the case. Search by “San Luis” to see a recent example of a City Council that reversed its own vote. Residents in Harrisburg better keep the pressure building until January 9th if they want to walk away successful. It ain’t over ’till the fat company sings.