Councilwoman Elisa Chan stood with representatives of District 9, Walmart, and local property owners to announce an agreement on a proposed Walmart store at Wurzbach Parkway and Blanco Road.
The deal, announced on May 23, 2012, culminated a series of meetings where Councilwoman Chan helped bring the parties to the table to negotiate land use and aesthetics for two alternative store options unveiled at a Town Hall meeting on April 24, 2012.
“I am happy to say that the aesthetics and deed restrictions on this development are compatible with the surrounding neighborhood and Phil Hardberger Park,” said Councilwoman Chan. “I want to thank all stakeholders for collaborating on a solution that saves many trees, expands the size of the park, and promotes sustainable business practices, while protecting the rights of property owners.”
Through dedication, leadership, and commitment to this process, all stakeholders worked out a resolution that will benefit the entire community, she said.
“I want to give special thanks to Walmart for really taking the neighborhood concerns to heart,” Councilwoman Chan said.
Among other provisions, Walmart agrees to the following:
· 165,000-square foot store, open 6 a.m. to 12 a.m.
· More than 16 acres of green space.
· At least 300-foot buffer zone between Walmart and adjacent neighborhoods will be used to expand Hardberger Park hike-and-bike trails.
· 50-foot buffer zone along Blanco Road saves heritage trees on pad sites.
· Major deed restrictions on pad sites: No adult entertainment, bars/taverns, bingo parlors, pool halls, dance halls, head shops, dry cleaning, nightclubs, pawn shops, tattoo parlors, etc.
Additionally, an 8-foot wall (subject to City Council approval) will be constructed behind Walmart and the company will provide funds for homeowners to install fencing behind homes that back up to the land buffering the development. To alleviate traffic concerns, entrances on Vista View will be reduced from three to one in addition to entrances off Wurzbach Parkway and Blanco Road. Trucks will only be allowed to enter from Wurzbach Parkway.
In all, the agreement protects a majority of the trees on the entire site. The original proposed development called for a 180,000-square-foot store with 24/7 operations, a gas station with tire and lube shop, a much smaller buffer zone, and seven pad sites along Blanco, Wurzbach, and Vista View.
"Residents have told us how important the surrounding area is and we heard them loud and clear,” said Julie Martin, Regional General Manager, Walmart. "We will preserve about three-quarters of the existing trees in the buffer zone and on the Walmart site combined, and we plan to incorporate sustainable features into our store design. We think our store can be part of the solution here when it comes to job creation, economic development and improved access to healthy, affordable food."
More information on Walmart’s sustainable business practices at this store and others can be found at www.walmartsanantonio.com.
The agreement will require new zoning on the property, and City Council will consider the case on June 21. The current site consists of a 41.41-acre parcel with 22 acres zoned C-2 and a 19-acre tract zoned MF-33. The new zoning will entail 25.05 acres zoned C-2 to accommodate the Walmart store, more than 15 acres zoned RP (resource protection or its equivalent), and 1.13 acres zoned C-1 to provide a setback buffer.
“This is a fair and equitable solution and a victory that accommodates many groups,” said Former Mayor Phil Hardberger. “Most importantly, we have found a way for business, neighborhoods, and the park to collaborate on a sustainable development.”
The negotiations included input from Northside Neighborhoods for Organized Development (NNOD), which represents a number of neighborhoods in the area near the park.
"I believe all parties had different outcomes in mind at the beginning of these negotiations and that only through the leadership of Councilwoman Chan and the dedication and ability to compromise by all stakeholders was this agreement possible,” said NNOD President Chuck Saxer. “Councilwoman Chan has done a superb job of listening to constituents, responding to neighborhoods, and crafting an agreement that is both acceptable to NNOD and significantly benefits Phil Hardberger Park.”
The agreement followed a series of meetings and City Council actions, including the filing of a Council Consideration Request (CCR) by Councilwoman Chan in February.
Councilwoman Chan supports property rights; however, this situation was not a simple, black-and-white issue. It was a complicated case where the property rights of the landowner, adjacent homeowners, and the concerns of constituents needed to be balanced while respecting the legacy of a world-class park that the City set aside as an oasis of green space among all the development in the area.
Councilwoman Chan intervened after her District 9 office received a great number of correspondences from a majority of constituents who expressed great concern for the original proposed development.
As Councilwoman Chan said from the beginning, the CCR was filed to slow down the process, evaluate the zoning of the property, and bring the stakeholders back to negotiations after residents expressed great concerns with the original proposed development.
Councilwoman Chan would especially like to thank the property owner for the patience and understanding during this process.
Additionally, she commended the land owner for making a generous gift to the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy, and she thanked Walmart for working closely with all involved to bring about this agreement.
"We appreciate all the hard work of Councilwoman Chan and her staff in bringing all the stakeholders together for this agreement," said Doug Edwards, a representative of the land owner. “The property owner is very pleased to see that this agreement was able to address the concerns of the community and ensure property rights.”