As predicted (see 9/8/00 newsflash), after the City Council of Westerville, OH voted unanimously to reject a 212,000 s.f. Wal-Mart supercenter, the developer’s lawyers sued the city. The lawyer called the rejection “arbitrary and capricious”, even though the project was rejected four times by the city’s planning commission before the Council slam dunked it also. City officials told the Columbus Dispatch newspaper that the Wal-Mart simply does not meet the standards for a planned-commercial zone established for the land they want. Westerville officials said the planned commercial zone was meant to “encourage imaginative site and architectural design”, and that what they got from Wal-Mart was conventional.
Let’s hope Wal-Mart officials don’t find themselves asked in court what Sam Walton meant when he said his company would not go where it is not wanted? The city has clearly stated why the Wal-Mart is not appropriate for that location, and the company could say to the developers: You go to court if you want, but we’re out of the project. Courts across the country are reluctant to substitute their judgement for that of local officials, and in all liklihood, this lawsuit will not change the outcome. In Westerville, Ohio, Wal-Mart now has four strikes against it.