Incumbents Mum on Walmart at Forum
Two village board members up for re-election declined to say whether they support Walmart's location because they fear a potential lawsuit from a group that opposes the proposed location. The challengers who attended said it's all about location.
The proposed Walmart dominated the Racine Taxpayers’ Association’s candidate forum Thursday night.
But people looking for the incumbents' take on the big box discount retailer coming to town were disappointed. Village President Ron Coutts and Trustee Kevin Wanggaard—both up for re-election—declined to say whether they would support the proposed 182,000 square foot supercenter at the southeast corner of 4 Mile and Green Bay roads.
The two said they were afraid there may be legal action coming from Caledonia Advocating for Responsible Planning, a group that has opposed Walmart coming to that location. Group organizer Jim Tiderman told the village board on Monday that CARP has incorporated into an LLC and that they are seeking legal counsel to represent their interests.
Coutts and Wanggaard took Tiderman’s statement to mean the group was going to file a lawsuit against the village, and said that’s why they didn’t say whether they support the Walmart development. Both candidates said they were advised not to say whether they were for or against the proposed location for Walmart.
Katie Tiderman, Jim’s wife, said after the forum on Thursday that Jim did not threaten the board with a lawsuit, but just letting them know the group was seeking legal counsel to represent its interests during the planning process for Walmart.
Trustee candidates Eddie Willing, Maureen Cramer, and Jim Dobbs were not at the forum.
Challengers Say Location is Problem, Not Walmart
President candidate Bob Bradley said he does support Walmart coming to Caledonia.
"I support any business wanting to come into Caledonia, but we have a responsibility to explore these projects," Bradley said. "But I’m not in favor of the spot they want to go in because there are too many undefined issues."
Trustee candidate David Prott said in his conversations with residents, a lot of people don’t want Walmart on the corner of Four Mile Road and North Green Bay.
“But the jury is still out on this and I think we need some more facts,” Prott said. “I think that location is just awful. It’s just not a feasible spot. Highway 31 would have been a better spot.”
Trustee candidate Richard Frazier said that while he was in favor of Walmart coming to Caledonia, he needs more information on the current proposal.
“Until I have enough information, I wouldn’t want to pre-judge the project either way,” Frazier said.
Coutts and Wanggaard—both incumbents seeking re-election—did not answer the question for reasons outlined earlier. Wanggaard did, however, offer this:
“There’s a process that has to be followed and the process is currently being followed through the land use plan and our Plan Commission,” he said. “Once those questions have been answered… the process will – once played out – give credence for the development or it will not.”