North Bossier residents protest Walmart rezoning at MPC meeting

North Bossier residents protest Walmart rezoning at MPC meeting

BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - A civil engineer hired by Walmart presented the company's plans for expansion in North Bossier to the Metropolitan Planning Commission Monday afternoon. The company wants to build a super Walmart where an empty field is now at Airline Drive at Wemple Rd. in Bossier, but they will need the land to be rezoned first.

The meeting served only as a preliminary hearing, where the MPC first heard the plans in a formal setting. No vote was taken.

Residents in the area plan to protest the big box store before the MPC makes their final decision to let Walmart build their super center.

Katye Hollowell's started a petition seven months ago opposing the idea of bringing a Super Walmart to Airline Drive at Wemple Road in Bossier. The petition has nearly 1,700 signatures. Hollowell also created a Facebook page for the cause.

"I just wanted to encourage everyone to have a voice, nothing is set in stone," she said.

Civil Engineer Kainen Leblanc attended the Metropolitan Planning Commission to present Walmart's plans. "They are looking to capture the growth that is happening north of I-220," Leblanc said.

The MPC board asked Leblanc if the current Walmart on Airline Drive will close if the new Walmart is built. "These are completely separate deals for Walmart tracts, where they get their sales," Leblanc responded. "They can evaluate and understand where the customers are coming from, based on their analysis these are completely separate markets, they are looking to capture the growth that has been on the north side of I-220," Leblanc told the Bossier MPC.

"The Sams Club has been open about 18 months- to - two years, it has done very well for them and a few other neighborhood markets in the area, one on Shed Road, the other in Shady Grove," he said. "They have made a significant investment in the market and have analyzed it, this is their next location they are looking to invest in."

Leblanc said an up-to-date traffic study that will be turned over to Bossier Parish Engineer Butch Ford and Bossier City Engineer Mark Hudson before the next MPC meeting.

Several community members spoke out against the rezoning like Kyle Sawyer, "It makes no sense to bring another Walmart with all the traffic, the crime, the stigma Walmart brings," said Sawyer.

Hollowell believes the public will come out in full force against the idea at the MPC's next meeting. "I believe that if enough people will come together, come into unity with each other with one message and one voice, we can have a say-so," said Hollowell.

Walmart's landscaping plan includes island shrubs and trees that surround the entire development, but Hollowell isn't satisfied. "It is not going to cover the back of a Walmart and cover trucks and cover trash, noise and lights, it is just not enough," she said.

In response to the opposition of building a Walmart on this land, Walmart says they plan to have an open house to answer questions and address any concerns that residents might have.

"We'll have our full design team there, we'll have the architect, representatives from Walmart, the traffic engineer," said Leblanc. "It will be a face to face interaction."
A time and place has not been set yet for the open house.

We also reached out to Walmart for comment on the issue, a spokesman issued the following statement:

"The North Bossier location was selected to provide the growing number of residents with the convenience they have been asking for.  What we find is that the more people get to know us, the more they see the value in bringing a Walmart store to their community."

The MPC will make their final decision following a public hearing on May 9 at 2 p.m. at Bossier City Council chambers.

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