Some Roseville Citizens Organizing on Wal-Mart Store Proposal
Informational meeting scheduled Tuesday evening at Roseville City Hall.
Gary Grefenberg is founding member of SWARN and Co-chair of the Roseville Human Rights Commission’s Civic Engagement Project. This article is an expression of his own opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Commission or its Neighborhood & Community Engagement Task Force.
As you may know Wal-Mart, America's largest retailer, is coming to Roseville, or at least it wants to.
As you may not know, Wal-Mart is not just the world's largest retailer. It's the world's largest company--bigger than Exxon Mobil, General Motors, and General Electric. In 2006 Wal-Mart sold $244.5 billion worth of goods. It sells in three months what number-two retailer Home Depot sells in a year.
The Roseville Planning Commission on a 5-1 vote approved the project in early February, and it is now set for a City Council decision in April, probably either on April 16th or April 23rd according to the City of Roseville web site.
In a replay of David vs. Goliath, some of your neighbors are organizing to express their concerns and raise issues with the Wal-Mart mega-store proposed for the NE corner of Cleveland Avenue and County Road C. The store is approximately 160,000 square feet (the size of more than three football fields) and sits on over 11 acres within the Twin Lakes project area.
Some of the opponents of this proposed development cite the incongruity of this project with the recently completed Comprehensive Plan’s policies encouraging locally owned and/or small businesses to locate or expand in Roseville…. And Goal 4 of the Economic Development section encourages reinvestment, revitalization, and redevelopment of retail, office and industrial properties to maintain a stable tax base, provide new living wage job opportunities and increase the aesthetic appeal of the city. (Emphasis Added.).
The Twin Lakes Master Plan calls for mixed use of the Twin Lakes area, but both the current zoning code and the Twin Lakes Plan allow retail as part of that mixed use. The question remains, however, what type of other mixed uses such as office and condominium development will be attracted to Twin Lakes when the first major development is a Wal-Mart Big Box.
Will Twin Lakes eventually become an extension of Rosedale, but a cheaper version with even more Big Boxes and cut-throat retail no matter what the Twin Lakes Plan envisioned?
Other local opponents have called attention to the negative social and economic impact Wal-Mart has on its host communities, as reported in several recent studies. In fact, the respected Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental agency, which usually condemns genocide and child prostitution, issued a report in 2007 that charged Wal-Mart with using strong arm tactics and at times illegal means to stop its employees from unionizing.
This new group has labeled itself SWARN which stands for the Solidarity of West Area Roseville Neighbors. It includes Roseville neighborhoods west of Snelling Avenue. Its first task is to try to get more community input and voices heard on this issue before the Council April votes.
For that reason it has organized a Community Meeting on this proposal for this Tuesday, March 20th, at City Hall, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Oak Bur Room in the lower level. (City Hall is located 2660 Civic Center Drive.)
The Community meeting will begin with a showing of the conclusion of the PBS Frontline documentary Is Wal-Mart Good for America? Some of the more detailed studies I have referred to will also be discussed. SWARN had invited city staff to make a presentation on the project, but they declined.
More information on this project can be found on the City's web site www.ci.roseville.mn.us. Once you are on the City's web site follow this track: City > Departments > Community Development > Proposed Development > Twin Lakes Wal-Mart