Hundreds of people showed up to an informational meeting held Monday about a potential Wal-Mart coming to Caledonia.
While the project hasn't formally been proposed to Village officials and would require several approvals before moving forward, the development would be located on the northwest corner of Highway 31 and Four Mile Road.
Unhappy with the idea of a commercial development being put on a property currently zoned residential, citizens registered complaint after complaint with Wal-Mart officials about the project. If there were people who supported a potential Wal-Mart store in Caledonia, only a few people publicly indicated their support for the project during the meeting.
The bottom line: most of the crowd didn't want the 115,000 square-foot building in that location. They preferred to have it located along Highway 32 where land is zoned commercial and isn't near land held by the Caledonia Conservancy.
Still, Lisa Nelson, a corporate affairs official from Wal-Mart, said her team wanted to hear about objections to the project to see if they could mitigate concerns or if they were too large to overcome. An architect, developer, civil engineer, real estate broker, and corporate attorney fielded numerous questions about property values, environmental concerns, the impact of the project on the Racine County Pony Club's horse trails, and how good of a corporate citizen Wal-Mart would be if they came to Caledonia.
Frank Gaitlin, of Gaitlin Development, explained that the store would employ between 150 to 200 people.
The average pay would be about $12.50 an hour, Nelson said.
At times, Wal-Mart officials seemed unprepared as audience members brought research documents and photos. Tempers also flared from the audience over several topics.
By the end of the meeting, which lasted for two hours, Nelson explained the team would take the residents concerns, discuss them and decide whether or not the issues could be overcome.
All of the Village Board members attended the meeting, but they didn't ask any questions.
Ron Coutts, the Village President, said the board wanted to listen to the information and neighbors' concerns.
"Right now, we'll take this information back with us, do our research, call a meeting and discuss it," Coutts said. "We'll probably bring in the planning commission members and will discuss if we want to go forward or if we want to find another location in the village for Wal-Mart.
"And if Wal-Mart doesn't want another location, we'll probably part ways and move on."