NORMAN — Norman will get another Walmart Supercenter, despite protests from nearby residents that it will increase traffic, crime and pollution and is not what they signed on for when they bought their homes.
“We don’t want a retailer in our backyard,” said Nicki Wilson, a resident of the St. James Park neighborhood, which is adjacent to the southeast corner of Cedar Lane and Classen Boulevard, where the supercenter will be built.
“This neighborhood is a hidden gem,” Wilson said. “We chose it because it was in a rural ward, not because we wanted to be near commercial development.”
Wilson and other residents voiced concerns about the project during a city council meeting Tuesday that lasted nearly seven hours.
In a 5-4 vote, council members approved a land use change from light industrial to commercial to allow construction of the supercenter. Voting against the change were Lynne Miller, Stephen Tyler Holman, Greg Jungman and Mayor Cindy Rosenthal.
A rezoning request to commercial passed by a 6-3 vote, with Miller, Holman and Jungman voting against it.
The city already has supercenters at 333 N Interstate Drive and 601 12th Ave. NE. Additionally, a Walmart Neighborhood Market is at 3671 Rock Creek Road and a second one is being built at 2551 Classen.
Some council members expressed concern that a new supercenter on Cedar Lane would “cannibalize” the supercenter on 12th Avenue. Jungman said the new Walmart would pull business from the Walmart on 12th Avenue and draw business away from other retailers.
Those in favor of the project said it would boost the city’s sales tax revenue considerably.
Blaine Nice, who represented the property owner, said Walmart officials have said they will not close the store on 12th Avenue.
“That store is overburdened. They want some customers to be drawn to the new store to alleviate some of the issues of the store on 12th,” Nice said.
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