Some residents of Greeley, Colorado apparently believe that one Wal-Mart supercenter is one more than enough. But according to the Greeley Tribune newspaper, this city may have the extraordinary luck of becoming “a two Wal-Mart town.” Neighbors are starting to organize an effort to block the proposed store, estimated to be a 200,000 s.f. superstore on the west side of town along 47th avenue, north of 10th.St. The City’s director of public works has pointed out that the proposed site has a serious traffic problem, since it is located along a steep hill. “In the winter time that hill can get pretty slick,” Bill Sterling told the Tribune, “and trucks having to turn quickly to get into the store would not be good.” Snake Mountain, as it is called, is so steep, it’s one of local residents’ favorite sledding hills. “It’s kind of an oasis in the middle of all this development,” one resident noted. A landowner from Boulder has been trying to develop this site for years, and rumors of a Wal-Mart first surfaced back in September, 2001. At the time, Wal-Mart denied it was interested in Snake Mountain. “We already have a presence in Greeley,” a Wal-Mart spokesman admitted, “and at this time there are no plans in place for anything new in Greeley.” This denial was strange, since Wal-Mart the week before had already met with city officials and shown them what Snake Mountain would look like with a supercenter on the parcel. Ironically, the west side already has a building that is mostly empty just a few blocks from the Wal-Mart site. The empty building used to have a Kmart in it. The city of Greeley has zoning rules about ‘hillside development” in the city, but Wal-Mart is trying to avoid them. “It is our understanding,” said CLC Associates, the developer from Englewood, CO, “that this site would not fall under the hillside standards, because no natural features or natural slopes greater than 15% remain.” But the building architecture, the landscaping and the retaining walls are all out of compliance with hillside standards. City development staff have asked the developer to give them something “better than the usual blocky warehouse design” they submitted. City reviewers complained that “the neighbors will see nothing but parking lot or slopes from their backyards.” The city also noted that the back side of the store will be facing one of the major streets. Rather than try to orient their building toward the street, the developer offered a 10 foot high concrete wall to hide the loading docks. The plan also calls for the removal of a wetlands on the parcel — which must be approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The site is also a “moderate area of ecological significance”, and a habitat for prairie dogs. All in all, a great choice for a big box store!
If this second superstore is approved, the city might want to consider a timely name change for the community from Greeley to Greedy, Colorado. If the community approves a superstore on a steep hillside, ruins a wetlands, requires a 10 foot wall to hide the store, it has to be more about greed than need. Many neighbors would rather keep Snake Mountain than have a second Wal-Mart, but the city is heading down a slippery slope on this one. For more info on the Greeley Wal-Mart, contact [email protected]