September 14, 2004
Wal-Mart wants to build another Supercenter store in Mesa — two miles down the road from an existing one.
The company has filed an application to put one at the northeast corner of Country Club Drive and Baseline Road.
One exists at the Mesa Grand shopping complex on the northeast corner of Baseline and Stapley Drive.
It could be a tough sell with City Councilman Kyle Jones, whose District 4 includes both sites.
"At this point, I’m not in favor of it," he said. "It’s too close to the other store. I mean, we’re talking about two miles!"
But Mesa Planning and Zoning Board member Frank Mizner, the city’s former planning director and director of the Dobson Ranch homeowners association, said the location makes sense.
"On one hand it seems fairly close to the current center at Stapley," he said, but it’s also on a corner already zoned for such use, away from residential neighborhoods where commercial and consumer traffic could wreak havoc for residents. The eastern edge of Dobson Ranch is about half a mile away, he said.
"If you’re going to have a Wal-Mart, that’s probably the place to put it," Mizner said.
Wal-Mart spokesman Eric Berger said the reason for another Supercenter is because the Stapley site is "approaching its capacity for that particular site, and the level of service we’re able to give to our customers."
Dorothy Chimel, principal planner for the city, said the planning staff will recommend approval because the zoning already exists and the corner is an appropriate site for a "big-box" store. "We don’t look at the tenants, but rather at the land use," she said.
Mesa attorney Sean Lake, representing the Arkansasbased retail behemoth, said he held a neighborhood meeting regarding the proposal shortly after the application was filed with the city last month, but "nobody showed up. Since then, we’ve been talking to the large landowners and the homeowners associations," including Dobson Ranch, he said.
Wal-Mart’s application is expected to be heard by the Planning and Zoning Board on Oct. 21 and the City Council in December. They are seeking modification of an existing site plan for a 32-acre parcel which surrounds the Jiffy Lube and Brakes Plus.
The site is zoned for light manufacturing, but shopping centers larger than 50,000 square feet can go in with a council use permit. The proposed Wal-Mart would cover 203,000 square feet.
Lake was on his way to Gilbert on Monday night for a neighborhood meeting on another proposed Wal-Mart at Gilbert and Warner roads.
Plans by the immensely successful retailer to expand tend to stir intense debate among neighbors worried about traffic and the ability of other retailers to compete, as well as unions who say the nonunionized stores force wages down for everyone, particularly at supermarkets.
Voter referendums failed to get enough support to stop Wal-Mart from building Supercenter stores in Mesa and Gilbert.
Mesa has approved another Wal-Mart at the southwest corner of U.S. 60 and Greenfield Road, about three miles away from one at Superstition Springs Center on the north side of the freeway.