It used to be that one of the relatively few advantages this part of Kentucky had over most of the rest of the country in attracting new industry was our low electricity rates. That advantage has largely disappeared with the rate hikes in recent years. We applaud Kentucky Power for refunding some of what we all have been paying for electricity, even if it did not want to do so.
The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky, on Walmart's superstore plans:
After months of discussion, controversy, public hearings and even prayer, the Louisville Metro Planning Commission faces a key vote Thursday on whether to approve plans for a Wal-Mart superstore in West Louisville at 18th Street and Broadway.
Its decision comes down to this single question: Will Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, get a pass on planning and zoning rules that apply to everyone else?
Or will the 10 members of the commission stick to the rules they routinely require other developers to meet?
Though the stakes are high, there simply is no compelling reason for the commission to change just for Wal-Mart the rules spelled out in Louisville's Land Development Code.
Wal-Mart is demanding special permission to build a suburban, big box store 154,000 square feet in size, some 400 feet off the road, and fronted by a vast asphalt parking lot of more than 600 spaces.
It has refused to consider building an "urban Wal-Mart" — less boxy and closer to the street — even though it has done so in other cities including Washington, D.C., Chicago and Knoxville to comply with planning rules.
Louisville's planning code requires new buildings in downtown areas and in traditional, urban neighborhoods to be built on the sidewalk with downsized parking to promote walking and cycling and improve pedestrian access. Corner sites are especially critical for enhancing the appearance and accessibility of developments.
And developers increasingly are complying with such rules — the new, $21.5 million YMCA planned directly across 18th street from the Wal-Mart site will be built at the corner of 18th and Broadway, with parking in the back. Other new businesses along Broadway ranging from drugstores to fast-food restaurants comply with the rules.
Now it's up to Louisville to decide whether to settle for less when it comes to Wal-Mart ...
Wal-Mart already is getting $2.3 million in city financial incentives for the $25 million project — $1.8 million to acquire land and a $500,000 cash grant over five years if it creates at least 225 jobs.
Many voices are urging the commission to side with Wal-Mart, citing the projected 300 jobs and economic boon of a superstore ...
Yet other voices in the community, chiefly those seeking neighborhood preservation and adherence to planning guidelines, argue they have been shut out of the discussion, stonewalled when they attempted to negotiate with Wal-Mart or city officials.
They are offering a counter-proposal that would at least place smaller storefronts along the street.
But Wal-Mart apparently believes it has no need to further revise its plans.
The planning commission should decide otherwise.