By Jon A. Brake
The City of Manhattan and Wal-Mart have a lot to irons to workout before Wal-Mart can start building their new Supercenter.
The City Commission will hold a Special Work Session Tuesday March 9 to start the negotiations with the company.
Wal-Mart has worked for more than a year with City Staff on developing the 22-acre tract of land located east of the intersection of Bluemont Avenue and Tuttle Creek Boulevard. The new 210,000 sq. ft. building will be just north of their 176,000 sq. ft. building where they have been for the past 30-years.
It took two trips to the Manhattan Urban Area Planning Board and now for the hard part, the Manhattan City Commission.
The City Staff recommended approval of the project to the Planning Board but added thirteen modifications that must be met. The Planning Board added two. The most notated of which is a major street from east Bluemont to McCall Road. It would run between the new Wal-Mart and the American Legion. It is major because to put the road there Wal-Mart must 1. Reduce the size of their store. 2. Buy-out the American Legion or 3. Turn the store to face the west.
Many on the Planning Board wanted to make the turning of the store a requirement but gave-up after Wal-Mart officials repeated the fact that they had to have parking in front of the store. With the street requirement they will either down size or turn the store.
The only way the City Commission could take the street off the requirement list is with a super-majority vote, which would require four City Commissioners voting to remove the street.
Many items will be up for the Wal-Mart officials and City Commissioners to make agreements on Tuesday. One of the big stumbling blocks will be the land owned by the City and which Wal-Mart need to complete a deal with the American Legion.
Wal-Mart needs the American Legion parking lot on the east of the Legion building. To get it they must buy or trade for land that the City owns on the west-side of the Legion. The land is a holding pond for storm water.
The City could sell the land to the company or the company may want to trade land. All of the land from Tuttle Creek Blvd. to Hayes Drive on the east is owned by Wal-Mart. For Bluemont to be extended through the property it must be sold or given to the City to become a public street.
In all Wal-Mart has spent millions to purchase the 22 acres and now to get approval from the City to build they will be required to spend millions on streets and other items in the conditions required by the Staff and the Planning Board.
At the February 18th Planning Board meeting Ron DeWeese owner of ACE Hardware ask for and received access to his store off Bluemont Ave.
At the March 18th meeting Linda Brake owner of Roche's Family Hair Care 801 Bluemont told the Planning Board that she had talked with Wal-Mart officials and with the City Staff about a right turn off Bluemont for her business and Mrs. Clyde's restaurant.
The two business have had a Bluemont turn from more that fifteen-years. Many of the 50 plus plans drawn by Wal-Mart gave a right turn into the property, which is owned by Wal-Mart and leased.
Chris Huffman, Kansas Department of Transportation spokesman sent a letter saying that KDOT did not object to a right turn into ACE and they did not object to a right turn into Roch's and Mrs. Clyde's.
The City Administration is still opposed "any access to the south side
of Bluemont Avenue between Tuttle Creek Blvd. and Hayes. A right-in / right
out access on Bluemont would provide the means to "short circuit" the traffic
light. This would create a situation that is less safe for the vehicular
and pedestrian traffic in the area."