Politics & Government

Clovis council delays ruling on Wal-Mart project

Updated 1:05 a.m.: Clovis City Council members have delayed a decision until Oct. 15 on a proposed shopping development anchored by a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

New information was brought to the council at Monday night's six-hour council meeting. The new issues involved the validity of the environmental impact report regarding a water supply assessment, the number of people employed by the project, and ailments that could occur because of excess pollution caused by the project.

Also, the developer, David Paynter, said he was willing to pay $70,000 toward a sound wall for residents along Sunnyside Avenue.

During the meeting, Clovis police officials urged the City Council to refuse to allow the new Wal-Mart to stay open 24 hours because of crime that could occur late at night.

A Wal-Mart official said the store did not want to give up 24-hour operation. He was responding to a report by Clovis police that indicated the crime rate at the existing Clovis Wal-Mart is higher than at similar stores.

As many as 250 residents packed the Clovis Memorial District building for the meeting. Many of them spoke in opposition to the project.

The 228,000-square-foot Wal-Mart store makes up about half of the 492,000-square-foot shopping center proposed for 40 acres along Herndon Avenue just south of Highway 168, between Clovis and Sunnyside avenues. Other stores in the project are Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Petco, Ross and Old Navy.


12 a.m.:

Clovis City Council members had not come to a decision on a new shopping development anchored by a Wal-Mart Supercenter during a five-hour hearing Monday that continued past midnight.

Council members were continuing to take testimony at 12:15 a.m. today and were unlikely to reach a decision, city officials said.

During the meeting, Clovis police officials urged the Clovis City Council not to allow a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter to stay open 24 hours because of crime that could occur late at night.

The recommendation from Capt. Janet Davis used two months of calls for service at the existing Clovis Wal-Mart store as proof that Wal-Mart has a higher crime rate than other local retailers.

But council members had not come to a decision late Monday night as many of the 250 residents who packed the Clovis Memorial District building waited to address the City Council about concerns that included traffic, pollution, noise, light and a potential for increased crime.

The 228,000-square-foot Wal-Mart store makes up about half of the 492,000-square-foot shopping center proposed for 40 acres along Herndon Avenue just south of Highway 168, between Clovis and Sunnyside avenues.

The Supercenter is a Wal-Mart store with a supermarket attached. Clovis already has two supermarkets -- Food Maxx and Winco -- that are open 24 hours, but no department stores are open around the clock.

Other stores proposed in the project are Kohl's, Bed Bath & Beyond, Petco, Ross and Old Navy.

Monday night's meeting was to hear concerns from residents about the environmental impact report, which said traffic and pollution from increased traffic were significant and unavoidable. The entire project is expected to attract 19,000 vehicles each day.

The city has required traffic improvements along Herndon, Clovis, Sunnyside and Villa avenues. California Department of Transportation and the city also are working with the developer to add lanes to the offramp to Highway 168.

Crime at the existing Wal-Mart store on Shaw and Peach avenues has a higher crime rate than either of the city's Target stores or the Clovis Kmart store, according to Clovis police.

Police Capt. Davis recommended the council keep the new Wal-Mart closed between midnight and 5 a.m. Much of the problem at the existing Wal-Mart, she said, is related to the overnight parking.

Overnight parking will be prohibited at the new store.

Jerry Cook, who owns the site of the other Wal-Mart, said a more accurate way to judge crime at a store would be based on the crime rate per shopper, not based on incidents alone because of the larger shopper volume at Wal-Mart.

Natalie Weber, a Stockton lawyer representing a group of Clovis residents and business owners, said the environmental document was insufficient because it didn't address the impacts on businesses outside of Clovis. Twenty percent of the business is expected to come from outside of the city.

Council Member Harry Armstrong said he was worried that the new Wal-Mart could lead to the closing of the Wal-Mart at Shaw and Peach avenues, as well as other stores.

"I am wrestling with this and I don't think this town is ready for a second Wal-Mart," Armstrong said.

But project developer David Paynter said no stores have closed because of new Wal-Mart supercenters opened in Hanford, Dinuba and Sanger.

He also said the existing Wal-Mart store will not close and that Wal-Mart has made millions of dollars in improvements at the Shaw site.

Paynter also said the project site is perfectly situated because it backs up to a freeway and not homes.

  Comments