Wal-Mart meeting draws 80 people in Monroe
80 people turn out to the Monroe City Council meeting to express their opinions about a store being built in their city.
Opponents say they worry about traffic and how it will affect other businesses in Monroe. They say they also believe the company is not a good fit for the city.
"We feel Walmart does not represent what North Kelsey should be,'' said Stashka Lepera, founding member of the Monroe Preservation Action Committee.
Proponents argue the store will bring more sales tax revenue and bring business to the stores already in the North Kelsey Street area where the Walmart is planned.
"Walmart is going to help bring more people in. It will bring more money to the city,'' said Frank Parsons, a Monroe resident for 21 years.
The meeting offered residents and business owners the first public hearing where they could air their opinions about a proposed development agreement between the Sabey Corp. of Seattle and the City Council.
About 30 people spoke to the council. Because of this high number - and also because some people who signed up left before speaking - the council approved unanimously extending the discussion to its March 29 meeting. Public comments will not be taken at the meeting. *
People can also send their written testimonies to City Hall by 5 p.m., Friday either by fax, snail mail or e-mail.
The deadline to approve the development agreement was extended to April 15.
If the agreement is approved by the council, Wal-Mart officials hope to start building a 156,000-square-foot store. They say it will create 300 jobs in the area.
Walmart has been one of the major topics at council meetings since the company announced Dec. 22 it was planning to open a store.
The Sabey Corp. in December paid $7.5 million for the 24-acre site at the north side of the intersection between North Kelsey Street and Chain Lake Road. The deal was $2 million less than an offer made in 2009, which fell through after the city council at the time said it would bar Walmart from coming to town.
Adrian Taylor, a Monroe resident for more than 30 years, has spoken against the new store at past meetings.
''Wal-Mart is not going to enhance Monroe. It is going to damage it,'' he said.
"The shadow of Walmart will bring more people to businesses already in the area,'' said Jennifer Spall, public affairs manager for Walmart. She said there's no starting date for construction but that it will take about a year to complete once it starts.
The Monroe Preservation Action Committee, a local group of residents and business owners, quickly formed to oppose the plan to bring a store to the city. The committee wants to limit the store's size because it says it will negatively affect traffic.
The group has held several rallies against the store, including one last Saturday at the corner of Kelsey and U.S. 2.
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Correction, March 21, 2011: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the public could comment at the March 29 meeting.
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