According to a report in the October 24th. Arizona Republic, Wal-Mart had a bad night in Goodyear, Arizona this week. Roughly 120 residents came to a hearing of the town’s Planning Commission to wave Wal-Mart goodbye from Goodyear. Perhaps the negative reaction was spawned in part by the fact that Wal-Mart already has a superstore just three miles from their proposed location. The Planning Commission voted 4-2 against the superstore, just off Route 10. The Commission spent around three hours taking testimony on the case.
“I’m not picky,” one Goodyear resident told the Commission. “I moved by a prison, which is better than a Wal-Mart.” “Why do we need another one?” another resident asked. “That’s saturation. We are being polluted by Wal-Mart.” But Wal-Mart’s bad reception in Goodyear is just a loss of round one. The case now shifts to the City Council, which will hear the case right around Thanksgiving. Wal-Mart’s lawyer told officials that the city has already approved the zoning for the store, and that what remains is just approving the site plan for the specific project. The Goodyear Planning Commission rejected the plan in part because the 203,000-square-foot store was located too close to future homes to the west. The store’s 24 hour operation also raised concerns. The store’s box design was considered incompatible with the city’s design for a gateway area into the city. “This is our gateway,” one Commissioner explained. “I think the business in that district will be held to a higher standard.” Another Commissioner complained that the city was negotiating with Wal-Mart for tax rebates on land that was considered very valuable to begin with.
In many communities, the Planning Commissions judge a proposal based on its detailed merits, and then pass the plan on to the City Council, which judges the case based on its politics. In this case, even though the Commission gave the plan bad reviews, the city is already negotiating tax breaks, a bad sign for residents in Goodyear.