By Ann Marie Shambaugh
The Zionsville Plan Commission voted unanimously June 20 to not appeal a ruling by Judge Steven Nation to mandate the approval of plans for a Wal-Mart on Michigan Road near 106th Street.
Commissioners declined to comment on their decision, but Zionsville Mayor Tim Haak issued a statement after the meeting on behalf of the town.
“This issue has been going on now for more than 10 years, and while we are understandably disappointed in this ruling, we will not pursue any further appeal,” Zionsville Mayor Tim Haak stated. “Given the judge’s mandate, it is now time to move on with the hope of reaching out and partnering with Wal-Mart with the hope of finding a common solution in developing a store that is more suitable to today’s economic environment.”
Although Wal-Mart now has the green light to proceed with its store, it is up to the retail giant whether or not it will continue to pursue building on a site that sits on the border of Zionsville and Carmel.
“Our top priority is to best serve our customers. Given the extended time frame since our original store proposal, we will consider our options. It is premature to comment further at this time,” stated Anne Hatfield, a Wal-Mart spokesperson.
Wal-Mart first presented plans to build in Zionsville in 2006. The ZPC denied the request, prompting Wal-Mart to file a lawsuit. A judge ruled that the commission “erred in denying Wal-Mart’s Primary Plat and Development Plans on jurisdictional grounds” and ordered it to take another look.
In 2008 the ZPC reconsidered the matter, but commissioners used primarily the same reports and logic for denying the plans as they had in 2006, leading to Wal-Mart filing the lawsuit that resulted in Nation mandating approval of the plans.
After a decade-long legal battle, many Zionsville residents are still speaking out against the retailer, as they have been since the beginning.
Steve Postma, a longtime Zionsville resident, has been opposed to Wal-Mart coming to Zionsville for years. He worries that the store will lead to increased crime and shut down local small businesses, among other issues.
“They don’t do anything for the community. They have their little fundraisers, but they’re so few and far between they don’t mean anything,” Postma said. “If the people told (Wal-Mart) we don’t want you here, why do you want to provoke the neighborhood?”