Wal-Mart has stirred up the waters in an attempt to take land from one township, move it into another, and then rezone it. The Indiana Star reports that a Wal-Mart proposal has muddied the waters in the township of White River, and all of Johnson County. Wal-Mart has selected a site surrounded by residential property, and when the retailer had a public hearing on the plan, as many as 300 opponents showed up. The company has proposed that the town of Greenwood annex the land and rezone it commercial. The neighbors told local officials that a Wal-Mart on route 135 would have adverse impacts on traffic congestion, safety, property values, noise and lighting and would change of the character of the neighborhood. “The neighborhood does not need a giant retail business, as it will markedly harm the quality of life,” one neighbor wrote. Residents say a Greenwood annexation would make all Johnson County residents wary of future “deals” where Greenwood, or other towns, would rezone land in contradiction to existing comprehensive plans. “Can residents settle in Johnson County and believe that development will be predictable and stable, with a clear and visible long-term plan?” one resident noted. “Indiana annexation and zoning statutes should be enforced to the letter or be amended to prevent this type of disorderly tyrannical development.”
Wal-Mart picks its land first, then looks at zoning second. The White River land is simply not zoned correctly. So what does Wal-Mart suggest? Move the land into another political subdivision, and change the zone. A very disruptive and volatile proposal, designed to kick up opposition. Yet such plans are commonplace with these big retailers. Residents are the last factor put into the equation, and when they rebel, the results are predictable: bad headlines, months of delay, and possible defeat for the proposal. Despite these obvious impacts, Wal-Mart continues to pick land that it should never be located on, and then tries to bulldoze the opposition with what one White River resident aptly called “disorderly, tyrannical development.” Wal-Mart now reaps what it has sown.