Walmart submitted plans in November for a proposed 182,000-square-foot store that would take up 22 acres on the corner of North Green Bay and 4 Mile roads, but there’s an issue.
Racine County’s comprehensive planning document is inconsistent with the Village’s land use plan. Walmart wants the village to remedy the problem, but a group opposed to Walmart’s building location has repeatedly said it doesn't believe the location is consistent with the land use plan.
Walmart wants Caledonia to rezone the two parcels from light industrial and office/urban residential to commercial, which is consistent with the village's land use plan because the area is designated as a village center. But the county’s comprehensive planning document only reflects a “design concept.”
While Walmart acknowledged the inconsistency between the two documents, they believe the Village’s land use plan and “legislative intent” supports their location choice.
But Katie Tiderman, organizer of Caledonians Advocating Responsible Planning, said a large retailer like Walmart wasn’t what residents had in mind when they told planners they wanted a village center in that area.
The area was slated to be one of the stops for the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee train line and the vision for the area was smaller commercial and retail businesses. But that train stop project never went through.
Tiderman argues that when the plug got pulled on the project the village board should have reassessed the designation for the area, but it didn’t.
“You could get into semantics and say that because the village center allows for a residential urban area and does allow for some commercial/retail, then it could allow for a Walmart,” she said. “But when we knew that train was not happening, our whole land use plan should have been revised.”
Tiderman points to the definition of the village center in the land use plan and to a UWM study.
“It was supposed to be an area for a new village hall, small retail businesses with pedestrian traffic and possibly a café, a bank or dry cleaners… but a large retailer like Walmart was not the intention of that designation, and was not wanted by our community.”
Mark Janiuk, village administrator, said the conflict between the two documents does need to be addressed.
“One interpretation is that the Village’s land use plan is consistent with building a Walmart while others say it does not," he said. "But that has to be determined by the plan commission and the village board."
The project is now at a stand-still. The Village is waiting for Walmart to make the next move and nothing has been presented to the planning commission or the village board.
“I think the idea was to move it forward all at the same time—the comprehensive plan change, the zoning approvals and the site approvals—so that there weren’t multiple meetings or multiple delays,” Janiuk said.