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Wal-Mart Project Gets Chilly Reception from Caledonia Residents

A look at who was there, what their signs said, and what the project looks like.

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."

JW April 14, 2011 at 04:34 PM
"Any businesses that come to Caledonia therefore will have to "import" workers from surrounding communities probably Racine city." That is a little bit of a stretch. Like any business anywhere, some people will come from the city the business is located and others will come from surrounding areas. But right now, how many businesses in Racine are staffed with the assistance of, especially, young adults and late teens from Caledonia? A Caledonia Walmart would be an option for more of our teens and young adults starting out where they can work closer to home, which many of them would prefer (saving on the gas, cost, and travel time). There are only so many jobs for their demographic in our area. The jobs will not hurt the area. And the extra travel of people coming to our side of town could even have positive effect on good local businesses and restaurants as more hang around our area. If I drive into Racine to shop Target or Walmart, I am more likely to eat at the restaurants down there than if I am kept on our side of town, where I would more likely eat in our area than chase down to Racine. All some of you want to do is drag out every negative... there are plenty of positives too.
San April 14, 2011 at 04:48 PM
i did not say ALL workers would be imported, but with a 3.8% unemployment rate, there is no doubt that the majority of workers for any new sizable operation would come from outside caledonia.with the most likely source being the high unemployment hub of Racine, probably necessitating some kind of commuting system to get them here... you are entitled to put out what you believe are positives, just like those who are opposed will clearly make the points they see that are detrimental. in balance, it appears the walmart will cost the village residents more money in taxes, add to congestion, slow down the commute for our bedroom community, increase pollution, noise, crime and potentially cause serious harm to the conservancy, the root river and property values for surrounding residents will be negatively impacted. the land use plan took a LOT of factors into account in its final determination and the idea that someone wants to have another fast food restaurant choice or instant access to imported goods from China does not seem to offset all the negatives and cause us to want to support this attempt to disrupt the long-term planning that has been done to protect the community from just such non-conforming uses or ideas of the moment.
patchreader 123 April 17, 2011 at 04:02 AM
Menomonee Falls has similar Walmart concerns regarding proposed same-size store, zoning changes and same developer. http://menomoneefalls.patch.com/articles/potential-walmart-development-receives-cool-reception
Kathy Aschebrock April 17, 2011 at 09:08 PM
Walmart is already the biggest employer in the United States, I wonder if our future is THE UNITED STATES OF WALMART...aka CHINA Work at WALMART, Shop at WALMART, pay Taxes to WALMART...protected by your Union, What Union,there are no Unions in United States of WALMART. Just think they could do away with the currency and just issue every one a WALMART shopping card.
jama March 13, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Bumping this back up/ it was great drama!

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