More than 150 residents of Papillion, Nebraska turned out recently to protest a developer’s plans to change the city’s Comprehensive Plan and rezone 75 acres from residential to commercial to pave the way for a Wal-Mart supercenter. The ‘Market Pointe’ project seems to have no Pointe to local residents who say the project is incompatible with the city’s land use plan, and dramatically changes the expected use of the land for residential purposes. Many of the homeowners in Hickory Estates will actually overlook the site, giving them a Wal-Mart supercenter as a nightlight every evening. “We thought that since we have residential on three sides of us, it would make sense to have nothing other (than that),” one neighbor explained. City residents have gathered more than 300 signatures on a petition to stop the plan, and are also circulating an appeal petition, in hopes of gathering signatures from 20% of the land area owners abutting the property, to force the City Council to rezone only with a supermajority vote of 6-2. If the residents get 3 Council votes against the rezone, the plan would die. The developer claimed that Wal-Mart rejected a number of alternative sites to the controversial parcel now in play. “The marketplace is the marketplace,” the developer said. “These retailers that drive these projects dictate to us as developers that this is where they want to go.” But residents respond they didn’t want to be dictated to by an out of state corporation. “We are going to get more commercial in that area,” another resident told the Papillion Times. “And the study shows that if you put commercial in a place other than the (Highway 370) corridor you are fragmenting the city’s growth and hindering the city’s future growth.” Another homeowner added, “The neighbors will complain and we will fight.” At some points of the site plan, Wal-Mart has only a 30 foot buffer, but the developer asserted that despite this narrow distance from other properties, “from an aesthetic point of view it’s going to be much more pleasant to look at.” Residents of Papillion told Sprawl-Busters, “Luckily we asked for a copy of the agenda for the Planning Commission and found out in the nick of time that city officials were willing to change the Comp Plan even though it had been reviewed and OK’d as recently as November, 2003. After three hours of testimony, the vote was 6-3 against an amendment to the Comp Plan. We thought it was an open and shut case. If the Comp Plan can not be amended, and the current designation for this particular piece of property is low-residential, they should have gone on to vote No on the the preliminary site plan, and No on the zone change. The members meet again on April 6th.”
Good planning requires developers to submit a proposal that fits the Comp Plan, rather than making the Comp Plan fit the proposal. In this case, since the Planning Commission rejected the Plan change, the rest of the project should be viewed as inharmonious with the Plan, and rejected.