Residents in Edmond, Oklahoma made April Fools out of Wal-Mart developers, when a judge ruled that site plan hearings for a Wal-Mart superstore must stop for now. Homeowners in the Fox Lake subdivision and the “I-35 Corridor Coalition” came out on top, but the real victory is still ahead. According to The Edmond Sun, Oklahoma County District Judge David M. Harbour agreed to a restraining order against the City of Edmond, Wal-Mart and Fox Lake LLC. The judge ruled that the developer had not shown that the halt in proceedings would cause peril to life and property. The ruling halts any site plan public hearings for the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter and the Fox Lake Shopping Center at Interstate 35 and 15th Street. The two projects are now on hold pending a separate court action relating to the zoning of the property. The residents charge that scale of the two commercial projects make them incompatible on property zoned Neighborhood Commercial. They say big boxes should only be located on land which is zoned General Commercial. Neighbors argued that the Neighborhood Commercial zone was created to protect homeowners from high intensity uses like superstores. The Wal-Mart and the 192,000-s.f. shopping center are proposed on 103 acres of land near the Fox Lake Addition, which includes the Fox Lake subdivision. The developer, Fox Lake LLC, said it was losing $70,000 a month from delays in the project. The court ruling on April 1st could cost the developer another $210,000, the company claimed. The court however, refused to lift the restraining order. The citizens group said the developer’s financial loss did not show peril to life and property, and that no appraisals were submitted showing a loss if these retail projects are not built, and that an individual’s economic loss is not the same as peril to a piece of property. Homeowners were the ones who came to city officials in Edmund and pointed out that pre-development work was being done on the site despite that fact that it was not zoned for big box development. So now the court case to resolve the zoning issue will hold up any further work on the site. That court case may not come forward until July.
Another citizen’s group forces city officials and a developer to play by the rules, slowing down the developer’s time clock. Such lawsuits are now commonplace in big box projects. The notion that superstores could rush through the permitting process is now a thing of the past, almost as archaic as Wal-Mart discount stores. For more stories on Edmond, search this database by the name of the city.