Even though the public was barred from speaking at Tuesday's meeting where Walmart presented conceptual plans to the Village Board and Planning Commission, attendees made their feelings known.
A number of residents held up anti-Walmart signs, and one woman screamed "Build it!" during the Tuesday night meeting at Gifford Elementary School. Some stood near the entrance of the school before the meeting started and asked the roughly 150 people who came to the meeting to sign a petition trying to block the store from being built.
Walmart is proposing to build a 185,000-square-foot 24-hour store on the corner of North Green Bay Road and 4 Mile Road, 25,000 square feet smaller than the Walmart in Mount Pleasant on Highway 11.
Walmart Attorney Deb Tomczyk used the meeting to try addressing concerns residents raised at a neighborhood meeting last week, including traffic, police calls, lighting and landscaping issues.
"We are aware of the significant traffic issues that need to be addressed, including Four Mile, Green Bay Road and Highway 31," she said. "We are currently looking at traffic counts from the DOT, and Walmart would expect to pay for any traffic improvements necessitated from its development."
Village President Ron Coutts voiced a concern about the curve on Highway 31.
"If this ever goes through, I know we'll see a lot of impact on traffic going east to North Green Bay Road," Coutts said.
Tomczyk also addressed worries residents raised last week about home values going down if Walmart built a store in their area.
A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research Study found that Walmart actually increased the value of nearby residential homes, Tomzyk said. While the study was published earlier this year, the data used for the study looked at home sales between 2000 and 2006.
However, a study published in 2010 by Hunter College reviewed over 50 other studies, which found:
"The retail giant is undertaking a major public relations campaign; however, the corporation has made only minor concessions and their promises about job creation and tax revenues are not realized."
Village Trustee Kevin Wanggaard questioned LED lighting, truck traffic and landscaping berms.
"As far as the 24-hour operation, I've got some challenges with that," Wanggaard said.
Tomzyk said they planned to use Cree/Ruud Lighting products in their store and would address landscaping screening and reconsider the 24-hour operation.
Planning Commission member Elaine Radwanski asked if the company would consider building a smaller store. Tomzyk said she would get input from Walmart, but didn't believe they would be interested in building a small store.
No decisions were made at the informational meeting and Walmart hasn't officially submitted planning documents to the Village.
"We're very, very early in the process and we haven't made any submittals yet," Tomzyk said. "We're hoping to get feedback and bring back a formal proposal to submit to the Village Board."