Wal-Mart has one strike left in Twin Falls, Idaho, having lost the support of the city’s planning department, and this week the Planning & Zoning commission voted unanimously to deny the retailer’s application for three special use permits. Wal-Mart wants to build a 200,000 s.f. supercenter in a business park in Twin Falls. Wal-Mart now has to appeal to the Twin Falls City Council within 15 days. Roughly 100 people opposed to Wal-Mart packed the Planning & Zoning meeting. Planning and zoning staff denied Wal-Mart’s request for special-use permits to allow the store to operate 24 hours per day, to operate a drive-through pharmacy, and include a tire and lube shop. The city and Wal-Mart also disagreed over signage on the property. The Planning Commission told Wal-Mart the intent of the business park was not to use it for “heavy retail” commercial development. “What was presented (originally) was a business park that did not need huge signage,” one commissioner explained.
Wal-Mart and the land owners will file an appeal, and argue that the city should change the intent of what the land was supposed to be used for.
It is not likely that a signage dispute will stop this project — but the larger issue is using valuable office park land for a lower, retail use. The city can hold firm on its plans to use this land for office space. Wal-Mart can fuss and complain, but the city is within its legal rights not to change the intended use for the property. For an earlier story on this case, search Newsflash by “Twin Falls.”