Wal-Mart's meeting with city goes well

Staff says company likely will exceed many requirements

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City officials say they're pleased with the obvious preparation and the willingness to meet city standards shown by those representing Wal-Mart Corp.

Two engineering consultants, an architect and an attorney -- all working for Wal-Mart -- met with city staff Wednesday in a 2 1/2 hour meeting. City Manager Jim Ferree said there were no questions about tax breaks or waived fees in relation to the construction of the 100,000-square-foot supercenter. Rather, the discussion focused on the city's development standards.

Several council members also said they would not support providing incentives to Wal-Mart for building in Craig.

"I personally don't think it's right to make that choice," Councilor Joe Herod said. "We're all on the same page. We're not going to negotiate or talk about it. You want to build it, you've got to pay for it."

Wal-Mart representatives presented a very preliminary sketch plan, indicating their desire to subdivide a 23-acre site into six parcels. Wal-Mart is in the process of purchasing property on the south side of U.S. Highway 40 west of TLC Carpet One.

City Building Inspector Dave Costa said two of the lots will be retained by the current owners, Randy Kloos and his sister, Vivian Casey. Two others likely will be sold for future development, and the third will be available for lease.

What will be constructed in those locations is anyone's guess, Ferree said, but there was talk of possibly installing fuel pumps.

The sketch plan has the five smaller lots positioned at the front of the property closest to U.S. 40 with Wal-Mart's parking lot behind them and the store south of the parking lot.

Ferree said the corporation has contracted for a traffic impact study. The sketch plan calls for vehicles to enter the complex from U.S. 40. If traffic counts warrant, a stop light will be placed at the entrance. Tractor-trailers would enter at the same place, or alternatively from Fourth Avenue West, and unload at the back of the building. There is no access from Third Street or on Riverview Avenue proposed at this time.

Wal-Mart officials are wor--k--ing with the Colorado Department of Transportation on the plan.

Costa said Wal-Mart representatives came prepared to Wednesday's meeting.

"They have done their homework," he said. "They knew the rules before they sat down and laid out their preliminary design."

He said the plans presented Wednesday -- though preliminary -- are further along than most plans he has seen at this stage.

Ferree and Costa said they encountered no opposition from Wal-Mart representatives about the city's requirements and that the corporation likely will exceed many of them.

"They indicated a willingness to comply with everything we reviewed with them," Ferree said. "They'll probably exceed our landscaping requirements."

Wal-Mart will go through two processes to initiate construction. The first is the city's subdivision process.

"This is a typical subdivision project like we've seen with any other community development," Costa said. "Right now, they're just dividing land like any other developer."

The second step will be moving through the site development plan review process. Costa thinks Wal-Mart can proceed swiftly in order to begin construction in the spring.

"It's still early in the process, but today went pretty well," Ferree said.

He already has received phone calls from residents regarding the proposal. One supported the construction, one opposed it and the third opposed offering incentives.

Costa also has received calls asking him to stop the development, but that's something he's not able to do.

"Planning and zoning can't do anything," he said. "If they meet the requirements, they meet the requirements."

Council members, also receiving phone calls from opponents, say they're also powerless to stop Wal-Mart from building in Craig.

"If they meet the requirements, they can build," Herod said.

Ferree said Wal-Mart representatives did not leave a copy of their sketch plan, but he expects them to submit a preliminary plan to the city by the end of next month.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210 or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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