The plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Walmart Stores Inc. have proposed an alternative design for the company’s planned west Louisville store, but compromise seems unlikely.
The design, seen above, would require that two out-lots be built on the far edge of Walmart’s parking lot and another on a slice of property that NewBridge Development would retain ownership of. Louisville-based NewBridge Development owns the property at 18th Street and Broadway and plans to sell the majority of it to Walmart for development.
Those out-lots would abut the sidewalk and give the development a street-front presence, a requirement of the land development code for that area. All building faςades must come up to the street, but Walmart received waivers and variances from the Board of Zoning Adjustment allowing them to build their 154,722-square-foot store at the back of the property.
“If they agree with this scenario, then they are basically complying with the land development code, and that is what we wanted all along,” said Steve Porter, the attorney representing the individuals and groups suing Walmart. “We are not asking for the Walmart building to move up to Broadway… All we are asking for is some out-lots.”
Kevin Thompson, director of public affairs and government relations for Walmart, said he was not privy to the suggested compromise Porter and his clients put forth beyond what he read Thursday in The Courier-Journal.
“We have not been involved in any settlement talks with the plaintiffs,” he said, adding that the proposal sounds similar to one presented during the Louisville Board of Zoning Adjustment hearing earlier this year that Walmart did not find acceptable.
The proposed change would cut into Walmart’s parking. The company’s representatives have said they need all 620 spaces, while those opposed to the approved design say Walmart does not because many of the customers in that area will walk or ride the bus.
Porter filed a lawsuit against Walmart and other related parties in March arguing that the make-up of the zoning board was illegal and that multiple board members had conflicts of interest and should have recused themselves from the vote.
Had the case been resolved in favor of the plaintiffs, it would have invalidated decisions made by that board. However, Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Olu Stevens dismissed the case.
“There is no evidence that the Planning Commission acted in an arbitrary manner or that its decision in this matter was a result of bias,” Stevens wrote in his opinion. “There are no genuine issues of genuine material fact and the Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
On Wednesday, Porter filed an appeal with the Kentucky Court of Appeals, which will delay the development of the west Louisville Walmart.
“We feel we have a real good chance of the Court of Appeals sending this back and saying you need a full hearing on this,” Porter said. “We felt we were deprived of the opportunity to present all the evidence we wanted to present.”