GREEN BAY – It was a step in the wrong direction Monday night for Walmart’s desire to build in downtown Green Bay.
The city’s plan commission recommended denying Walmart’s request to rezone the Larsen Green site on Broadway.
Debate about the Walmart issue lasted more than three hours.
“To this point I still haven’t heard any valid arguments against Walmart doing this,” said Gordon Wilker. “All I hear is a bunch of fear.”
“Those people down there need it, well I’m one of those people,” said Lisa Nelson of Green Bay. “I fit right within the proper demographics and I neither want nor need a behemoth building with 24/7 lights blaring and unnavigable traffic in my neighborhood.”
Walmart reiterated it won’t downsize from it’s 154,000 square foot Supercenter proposal with more than 600 parking spaces.
“We actually have done a store or two in our past and we have a pretty good track record of trying to determine what’s going to be appropriate at this location and not,” said Debbie Tomczyk, Walmart’s land use attorney.
City staff also stood its ground, saying a mix of uses on the Larsen Green site would be more appropriate than a big box store.
“A much lower tax base density would be experienced at the site than what we believe is achievable and important here,” said Nic Sparacio, a planner for the city.
After all the debate, plan commission members voted 3 to 2 denying Walmart’s rezoning request.
“For the most part, it’s a very valuable piece of property and a historical value of more than 400 years of history,” said Jerry Wiezbiskie, a alderman and member of the plan commission. “A big box does not fit in there.”
After the vote, a Walmart spokesperson didn’t have much to say.
“Tonight we appreciated coming before the plan commission,” said Lisa Nelson, a Walmart spokesperson. “We certainly appreciate their input and their thoughts but we look forward going before the city council and that’s all we’re going to say.”
The city council could still give Walmart’s requests the green light. The earliest the council could vote on the plan commission’s recommendation is next week.
Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt told FOX 11 he will likely be holding a press conference Thursday afternoon to talk about alternate options for the Larsen Green site. Schmitt has opposed Walmart’s plan.