Friday, November 11, 2005

The "We Hate Wal-Mart" Phenom

Interesting story in yesterday's Trib about the pervasive anti- Wal-Mart expressed in Utah recently, similar to the same thing showing up all around the country.

We all hate Wal-Mart, until we want to buy something cheap. All those people who revile the store itself, seem to go shopping there anyway.

The Davis County Clipper, in a related story, notes that persistent Wal-Mart gadfly David Putman, who actually moved out of Centerville some time ago, continues his dogged persecution of the city and store. What is his story, why does he carry this on to such ends? According to the story, the Centerville citizen who most recently led the opposition, George Fisher, even thinks that Putman's threat of a lawsuit is ill-advised and bound to fail. I agree, with all the care the Centerville City officials have put into the review and approval of the permit for Wal-Mart, a suit is not bound to get very far. What will Putman do next?

14 Comments:

At 9:12 PM, Blogger Askinstoo said...

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At 10:04 PM, Blogger Former Centerville Citizen said...

For crying out loud Wilf, turn on the blog spam protector.

And amen, I've been as opposed to Wal-Mart as anybody else in this town, but at this point any litigation from David Putnam isn't going to do any good. There are many good causes that his money could go towards, whereas any lawsuit he files against the city is just going to cost both him and the city and will end up going nowhere. It's good that David will fight for what he believes in, but there comes a point when time and money are better spent elsewhere.

 
At 8:56 AM, Blogger Student-Builder said...

You obviously are not aware of the cloak and dagger events that lead to the approval of the Wal-Mart in Centerville. Wal-Mart isn't the bad guy, the Mayor and City Council are. Previously, there was a wonderful plan to build a "City Center" on the site, but fear of density panicked citizens into replacing the mayor. He then went on to manipulate the master plan into allowing more big box development.

Anyone who has seen the previous plan can't help but be sickened by the current situation.

 
At 8:57 AM, Blogger Student-Builder said...

You are obviously not aware of the cloak and dagger events that lead to the approval of the Wal-Mart in Centerville. Wal-Mart isn't the bad guy, the Mayor and City Council are. Previously, there was a wonderful plan to build a "City Center" on the site, but fear of density panicked citizens into replacing the mayor. He then went on to manipulate the master plan into allowing more big box development.

Anyone who has seen the previous plan can't help but be sickened by the current situation.

 
At 9:06 AM, Blogger Wilf said...

Student Builder:

Careful what you assume. I was the Centerville City planner (through a contract with Davis County) for 10 years, and got to know many of the players there very well over the years. My successor was Paul Allred, who did a yeoman's job in developing the town center plan, and who was then fired, mostly over the plan. Paul came to work for us at the county until he left for Holladay recently, and we have talked over "old times" in Centerville many times.

Paul did the town center plan, and I was at Centerville when the original commercial zoning at that site was adopted years ago, so we do know something of what went on there.

By the way, Centerville Citizen, please tell me how to turn on the blog spam protector, I'd be more than happy to do it.

 
At 11:40 AM, Blogger Ethan said...

You can turn on a blogger option that requires commenters to type in a series of letters shown on the screen before their comment is posted.
Or you can have your comments hosted by someone other than blogger. A lot of people do that. That seems to work okay. Some people use Haloscan.com for example.
I myself have yet to do any of these things. I still delete every spam comment individually. Sometimes it gets tedious, but oh well. I just click on the trash can then mark the "permanent" box and it disappears completely.

 
At 11:21 AM, Blogger Former Centerville Citizen said...

Ok student-builder, help me out here. Don't get me wrong, I have been no fan of Mayor Deamer at all (I really wish Ron Russell had won four years ago), but how exactly did the mayor himself "manipulate the master plan"? After all, the council voted to amend the General Plan, but did the mayor push it? Or did the pressure to amend the General Plan come from the city staff? And even though the General Plan was amended, is it true that all of the zoning designations the property had from the 70's until today would have allowed for the big box that we're getting? I've heard conflicting accounts, and not knowing the full, exact truth makes me feel like an uneducated citizen.

 
At 5:54 AM, Blogger Lover of Sunflowers said...

Hi, I'd like to know how you base your comment, "All those people who revile the store itself, seem to go shopping there anyway."

I "revile" Walmart as does almost everyone I know and I/they never shop there no matter what. If we can't afford it elsewhere, we all do without or make it ourselves or borrow from others.

Please support your local businesses during this Buy Local Week (Nov. 13-Dec. 31, 2005: Buy Local, Organic, and Fair Made--Boycott Wal-Mart and the Chains) and educate yourself on the pitfalls of consumerism by participating in Buy Nothing Day, Friday, November 25th.

 
At 9:25 AM, Blogger Student-Builder said...

Centerville Citizen, Centerville's Strategic Development Master Plan was incorporated into the city's general plan, meaning all development on the property had to conform to it.

After the mayor fired Paul, he replaced him with Aric Jensen who helped come up with a way to allow a big box. They simply added the sentence "Alternative Conceptual Land Use Plan maps as adopted by the City may also be referred to for guiding new development in the Village Center Area", and promptly approved two maps that showed big boxes on the land. Everything else you have heard is smoke and mirrors.

If you want the whole story, go to this article:

http://www.clippertoday.com/default.asp?sourceid=&smenu=1&twindow=&mad=&sdetail=7168&wpage=1&skeyword=Deamer&sidate=&ccat=&ccatm=&restate=&restatus=&reoption=&retype=&repmin=&repmax=&rebed=&rebath=&subname=&pform=&sc=1005&hn=clippertoday&he=.com

 
At 10:59 AM, Blogger Former Centerville Citizen said...

Well student-builder, you got me. I'm the one that wrote that letter to the Clipper, but in all honesty I didn't really fully understand everything that had happened with the property; what I had written in that letter were my observations, but no where in my letter did I say anything about the specific zoning designations on the property. Even with the General Plan and other master plans, isn't it true that those are just "guiding documents?" I.e., can't people still do what they want with their property as long as it conforms with whatever the zoning designation of the property allows? Or am I wrong? Do cities have to adhere to their general plans? Like I said, somedays I feel like an uneducated citizen just trying to figure everything out, but I can't.

 
At 3:32 PM, Blogger Wilf said...

Centerville Citizen and Student-Builder:

Interesting to follow your discussion, after all these years since I was the city planner for Centerville.

The entire concept of the village was developed after Paul came in to replace me, and it was all done as part of the city general plan.

Citizen, you are absolutely right, general plans are advisory only and in no way have the force of law. A city council can choose to ignore them, and that is what happened in Centerville's case.

The zoning on the property, which was put in place way back in the early 80's, was for general commercial development. With the exception of some minor tweaks, that commercial zone designation was never changed or rescinded. And having been written in the 80's, it never really contemplated the type of big box development that takes place today. But the language was general enough that it did permit them.

The city council never followed through and changed the actual zoning to conform with the village plan. That was the big debate going on when Paul Allred was let go and when the city elections put new people in office that did not support the village plan.

For what it's worth.

 
At 6:00 PM, Blogger Former Centerville Citizen said...

Well Wilf, in light of what you said, it sure feels like all of that planning for the village center was just a waste of time and money. What's the point of going through the trouble to construct something in the General Plan if you're not even going to change the zoning on the property? And dang, you wonder what it would be like had city fathers 25-30 years ago changed the commercial zoning to put a cap on the size of commercial businesses that could be on that parcel. I think that this entire fiasco is a great example of poor planning and its result.

 
At 2:22 PM, Blogger Student-Builder said...

Citizen,

Sorry about sending you to an article YOU wrote. It was just so well written, I felt that it hit all of the major points.

As a planning student, I find it interesting that the "general plan" which is supposed to serve as a compass for the community, is considered a recommendation, while the mighty zoning ordinance must be strictly adhered to.

I have the same question. Why did Centerville spend so much money and time adapting their general plan and the SDMP for the village center, only to "not get around to" updating the zoning ordinance? If the zoning ordinance was the only legally binding document, why wasn't it a priority? Why even mess with the general plan? (I'm still learning to about all of this!)

The other interesting point was the vague language used to notify the public that the plan was being changed. Couldn't the case be made that the public wasn't properly notified since insufficiant information was provided?

 
At 4:21 PM, Blogger Former Centerville Citizen said...

Good points, student-builder.

 

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