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Wal-Mart to invade the Heights

Walmart at Yale & I-10: For or Against  

160 members have voted

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  1. 1. Q1: Regarding the proposed WalMart at Yale and I-10:

    • I live within a 3 mile radius (as the crow flies) and am FOR this Walmart
      41
    • I live within a 3 mile radius (as the crow flies) and am AGAINST this Walmart
      54
    • I live outside a 3 mile radius (as the crow flies) and am FOR this Walmart
      30
    • I live outside a 3 mile radius (as the crow flies) and am AGAINST this Walmart
      26
    • Undecided
      9
  2. 2. Q2: If/when this proposed WalMart is built at Yale & I-10

    • I am FOR this WalMart and will shop at this WalMart
      45
    • I am FOR this WalMart but will not shop at this WalMart
      23
    • I am AGAINST this WalMart but will shop at this WalMart
      7
    • I am AGAINST this WalMart and will not shop at this WalMart
      72
    • Undecided
      13
  3. 3. Q3: WalMart in general

    • I am Pro-Walmart
      16
    • I am Anti-Walmart
      63
    • I don't care either way
      72
    • Undecided
      9


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AtticaFlinch    706

Point taken.

Still, individuals don't have to be "All in" or "All out" on issues. It sounds as if MarkSMU was using one person's stance on one issue to belittle their opinion on another. To believe that everyone has to fall only in to one camp at all times seems short sighted and even a misunderstanding of the complexity of the human condition (There. I have satisfactorily added my own hyperbole to the thread).

I agree this is a complex and multifaceted issue, and if I'm not mistaken, I think that was also Marksmu's larger point. By questioning people's visceral emotional responses and highlighting their incongruities in logic, Marksmu appears to have underlined the fact most people weren't rightfully acknowledging just how complex the issue is.

I think his analogy made plenty of sense. Then again, I wholly support the construction of the Walmart even though I hate Walmart. (How's that for complex?)

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TheNiche    969

Point taken.

Still, individuals don't have to be "All in" or "All out" on issues. It sounds as if MarkSMU was using one person's stance on one issue to belittle their opinion on another. To believe that everyone has to fall only in to one camp at all times seems short sighted and even a misunderstanding of the complexity of the human condition (There. I have satisfactorily added my own hyperbole to the thread).

Marksmu has a personal beef about property rights in the context of the Heights community; you can read about it earlier in the thread. He feels (I think, rightly) that his investment has been undercut by people who have stealthily deprived him of the utility of his property without any sort of recompense, and he sees this same set of people gearing up to try and do the same thing to another property owner that isn't even in the same neighborhood.

And at a very basic level, I think that the two issues (big box retailers & preservation) are one in the same. A neighborhood's moral or aesthetic values are being weighed against property rights and economic efficiency.

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mistergreen    1

Here are a few examples of some fairly decent looking Wal-Marts:

http://www.heraldonline.com/2008/03/08/415172/not-your-typical-big-box.html

http://www.backbencher.org/2009/05/the-luxury-walmart.html

http://www.sustainabilityninja.com/wind-turbine-sustainability/walmart-and-duke-energy-team-to-use-wind-power-in-texas-stores/

I'm not an advocate, just did some looking around. Funny thing, I was hoping that Target would go in a better direction, but look what happened there.

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Angostura    361

I dig the quote in the first link ("classiest Walmart I've ever seen").

"Classy" is one of those words whose very presence indicates the opposite of its literal meaning.

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TheNiche    969

I dig the quote in the first link ("classiest Walmart I've ever seen").

"Classy" is one of those words whose very presence indicates the opposite of its literal meaning.

Eh, I don't know. Classy is a relative term, and the points of comparison were other Wal-Marts. It'd be like the rancher of an unremarkable pasture claiming that a particular cow patty was the least pungent that he'd ever stepped in.

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s3mh    246

Marksmu has a personal beef about property rights in the context of the Heights community; you can read about it earlier in the thread. He feels (I think, rightly) that his investment has been undercut by people who have stealthily deprived him of the utility of his property without any sort of recompense, and he sees this same set of people gearing up to try and do the same thing to another property owner that isn't even in the same neighborhood.

And at a very basic level, I think that the two issues (big box retailers & preservation) are one in the same. A neighborhood's moral or aesthetic values are being weighed against property rights and economic efficiency.

At a very basic level, the issue is democracy. The latest word on the development is that Ainbinder is negotiating with the City for tax incentives in exchange for Ainbinder making the infrastructure improvements that are necessary to cram a Wal-Mart supercenter into the lot off of Yale. So, this is not simply an issue of whether Ainbinder can do what it wants with its land. This is an issue of whether tax dollars are going to be used to support bringing a Wal-Mart to the development. The City is under no duty to give Ainbinder anything. The tax incentives must be approved by our elected representatives. Our elected representatives are supposed to listen to what the community wants and act accordingly. Once tax dollars are involved in the development, the community has a right to bring moral, aesthetic concerns to their elected representatives. And the concerns are so much more than that. It is much more about the traffic, drainage, burden on fire and police, as well as not wanting to see suburban big box development crammed into an area that is just not suited for that kind of development. Yale is not FM 1960. The development will be less than a mile from where the hike and bike trail crosses Yale and from a school crossing further north. Wal-Mart supercenters are designed for neighborhood where the commercial areas are completely separate from the residential areas. The location on Yale is just too close to neighborhoods and puts too much traffic onto streets that are really residential arteries and not big wide feeder roads.

So, this is not a question of whether people are depriving Ainbinder of their investment backed expectations to such a degree that it is a constitutional taking. This is a question of whether tax dollars will be used to support a development that has significant opposition in the community. Unless Ainbinder is willing to pay their own way, the community has a seat at the table.

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RedScare    1636

No, it is really not an issue of democracy, and it is not a constitutional taking, despite your attempt to call it one. The tax incentives being negotiated are in return for infrastructure improvements to City infrastructure. There are no offers of taxpayer money to improve the private land or to help "cram" a Walmart onto a 15 acre lot (for those unfamiliar with what 15 acres looks like, that is 653,400 square feet, or the size of 4 standard Houston Heights blocks). The City is in a financial bind, and doesn't have money to spare to upgrade the infrastructure that it normally provides its taxpayers, including those who will provide roughly $700,000 in annual taxes to city coffers. In situations like these, it is common for the city to reimburse developers for paying for the upgrades themselves in the form of reduced taxes for a set period of time. If you had offered to repave the street in front of your house, the city would have entertained tax incentives for you as well.

You are correct that the city owes Ainbinder nothing. You would also have been correct if you had pointed out that Ainbinder owes the city no upgraded streets in front of his development, either. This is a mutual discussion between the two entities that benefits both. The city gets new streets that it otherwise would have had to issue bonds to upgrade, and Ainbinder gets new streets now, instead of in 10 years or so, when the city can afford it.

Since you insist on using the 'cramming' argument, I might point out that this land was previously an industrial site, housing a steel plant. The plant was not only served by a railroad, but dozens of semi-trailers, more than would ever visit the Walmart. But, you were OK with a steel factory "less than a mile" from a school. I fail to see what a store selling school supplies would hurt. Besides, a high volume Target down the street is only .7 miles from a school, and I've yet to hear you complain about it.

While there is some vocal opposition from a rather small segment of one neighborhood, you ignore the support of many others in that same neighborhood, plus many other neighborhoods in the area. And, it must be noted that the proposed Walmart is not even going to be located in the Heights. Just how much weight should your complaints be given when you live over 2 miles away? I live less than a mile from the site, and you seem to think my views carry no weight. And when are you going to provide support for the outrageous claims you make?

Yes, the community has a seat at the table...ALL of the community.

EDIT: Oh, almost forgot to point out that there is a Walmart on FM 1960 on a 384,000 square foot site...41% SMALLER than the Yale site.

Edited by RedScare
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TheNiche    969

At a very basic level, the issue is democracy. The latest word on the development is that Ainbinder is negotiating with the City for tax incentives in exchange for Ainbinder making the infrastructure improvements that are necessary to cram a Wal-Mart supercenter into the lot off of Yale. So, this is not simply an issue of whether Ainbinder can do what it wants with its land. This is an issue of whether tax dollars are going to be used to support bringing a Wal-Mart to the development. The City is under no duty to give Ainbinder anything. The tax incentives must be approved by our elected representatives. Our elected representatives are supposed to listen to what the community wants and act accordingly. Once tax dollars are involved in the development, the community has a right to bring moral, aesthetic concerns to their elected representatives. And the concerns are so much more than that. It is much more about the traffic, drainage, burden on fire and police, as well as not wanting to see suburban big box development crammed into an area that is just not suited for that kind of development. Yale is not FM 1960. The development will be less than a mile from where the hike and bike trail crosses Yale and from a school crossing further north. Wal-Mart supercenters are designed for neighborhood where the commercial areas are completely separate from the residential areas. The location on Yale is just too close to neighborhoods and puts too much traffic onto streets that are really residential arteries and not big wide feeder roads.

So, this is not a question of whether people are depriving Ainbinder of their investment backed expectations to such a degree that it is a constitutional taking. This is a question of whether tax dollars will be used to support a development that has significant opposition in the community. Unless Ainbinder is willing to pay their own way, the community has a seat at the table.

Allow me to clarify that I do not dispute your right to engage in the political process (though you are mistaken that it is a democracy); I dispute the validity and consistency of your aesthetic or moral arguments, and particularly your bogus arguments about there being a traffic externality.

I would point out that an alternative site configuration in such a way as provided retail and also conformed to the scale and character of the neighborhood that is to the north and separated by a freeway from this site would likely result in a denser and more intense use of the site, which would be an even bigger burden on city services and infrastructure.

I would also point out that your claim that a big box retailer will create a traffic burden on a neighborhood opposite a freeway from it is bogus, and I can cite Sawyer Park and Watson Street as a highly-comparable case study. And obviously you weren't talking about residential streets in the West End because this site is not and has never been residential in character, and it fronts streets that also are not residential in character.

I would further point out that in the event that I am wrong, and the community starts using your neighborhood streets because they are more efficient than using alternative routes..."the good of the many outweighs the good of the few". That's why the Heights was laid out in a grid in the first place, was to promote through traffic.

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barracuda    344

The City is in a financial bind, and doesn't have money to spare to upgrade the infrastructure that it normally provides its taxpayers, including those who will provide roughly $700,000 in annual taxes to city coffers. In situations like these, it is common for the city to reimburse developers for paying for the upgrades themselves in the form of reduced taxes for a set period of time. If you had offered to repave the street in front of your house, the city would have entertained tax incentives for you as well.

You are correct that the city owes Ainbinder nothing. You would also have been correct if you had pointed out that Ainbinder owes the city no upgraded streets in front of his development, either. This is a mutual discussion between the two entities that benefits both. The city gets new streets that it otherwise would have had to issue bonds to upgrade, and Ainbinder gets new streets now, instead of in 10 years or so, when the city can afford it.

I would agree that this is a reasonable deal so long as the tax incentives are comparable to the cost of the infrastructure improvements, and the improvements benefit local residents, not just Walmart. The additional downstream cost to the infrastructure (such as additional load on city sewage and water infrastructure) should also be accounted for in the incentive formula IMO.

While there is some vocal opposition from a rather small segment of one neighborhood, you ignore the support of many others in that same neighborhood, plus many other neighborhoods in the area. And, it must be noted that the proposed Walmart is not even going to be located in the Heights. Just how much weight should your complaints be given when you live over 2 miles away? I live less than a mile from the site, and you seem to think my views carry no weight. And when are you going to provide support for the outrageous claims you make?

Agree, but I bet most of the folks in this thread are not within 2 miles of the location.

I would also point out that your claim that a big box retailer will create a traffic burden on a neighborhood opposite a freeway from it is bogus, and I can cite Sawyer Park and Watson Street as a highly-comparable case study. And obviously you weren't talking about residential streets in the West End because this site is not and has never been residential in character, and it fronts streets that also are not residential in character.

Could you re-post the case study? I'm interested in seeing the numbers.

I'd agree that most folks are not going to drive down Yale all the way from 610N to shop at Walmart when they could reach it or other Walmart locations more quickly on the freeway. However, I wouldn't rule out an increase in through traffic on Yale during rush hour or other times when I-10 is clogged. Also consider that the planned Walmart includes a full supermarket and will incur 24-hour traffic vs. Target's mini-grocery and 8am-10pm traffic. But I do think that the majority of increased traffic on Yale north of I-10 will come from existing Heights/Timbergrove residents, and not from through traffic due to the numerous traffic lights and increased drive time.

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RedScare    1636

Also consider that the planned Walmart includes a full supermarket and will incur 24-hour traffic vs. Target's mini-grocery and 8am-10pm traffic. But I do think that the majority of increased traffic on Yale north of I-10 will come from existing Heights/Timbergrove residents, and not from through traffic due to the numerous traffic lights and increased drive time.

Have you ever shopped at Kroger at 11th in the middle of the night? I have. How about Walmart? I have. There's one clerk on duty, and that clerk is just a stocker assigned to check out the occasional customer. There is never more than a handful of people in the store other than employees. And, wouldn't traffic on empty streets in the middle of the night be preferable to clogging roads at 5 pm?

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TheNiche    969

Could you re-post the case study? I'm interested in seeing the numbers.

All you have to do is take a drive down Watson Street. Traffic could double nobody would notice.

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barracuda    344

Have you ever shopped at Kroger at 11th in the middle of the night? I have. How about Walmart? I have. There's one clerk on duty, and that clerk is just a stocker assigned to check out the occasional customer. There is never more than a handful of people in the store other than employees.

No. I guess I need to readjust my shopping schedule.

And, wouldn't traffic on empty streets in the middle of the night be preferable to clogging roads at 5 pm?

Perhaps, so long as I don't live near the street onto which traffic is emptying in the middle of the night.

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barracuda    344

All you have to do is take a drive down Watson Street. Traffic could double nobody would notice.

Okay, well I get a freebie too next time you want me to cite sources.

I live 1.5 blocks from Watson, and it's definitely one of the busier side streets in the neighborhood. How much of that has to do with Target is evidently unknown, but I suspect it's not much. Watson is primarily a neighborhood street, slowed by speed bumps and an interrupted life that ultimately ends at Main. Yale is more apt to absorb excess through-traffic since it's a higher-speed street that continues well past 610N.

Edited by barracuda
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TheNiche    969

Okay, well I get a freebie too next time you want me to cite sources.

I live 1.5 blocks from Watson, and it's definitely one of the busier side streets in the neighborhood. How much of that has to do with Target is evidently unknown, but I suspect it's not much. Watson is primarily a neighborhood street, slowed by speed bumps and an interrupted life that ultimately ends at Main. Yale is more apt to absorb excess through-traffic since it's a higher-speed street that continues well past 610N.

No doubt Watson is one of the busier side streets. It's the only one in that neighborhood that has a freeway exiting to it. Even still, I cannot recall ever having driven down Watson and come across more than another driver or or two. And that's with a Target and a bunch of other stores for which there are no easy alternatives to the north (or competition, at present, in the form of Wal-Mart).

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Jesse    37

Aren't the train tracks going to bisect the lot? Oooh, maybe they'll build a tunnel!

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I suppose I have become a littel skeptical of the "destruction of our beloved Mom & Pops" angle the more I think about it. I'm not so sure that Wal-Mart takes away from small independent businesses as much as it takes away from other large retailers (at least in this setting, I think the Wal-Mart effect on small towns is a different story). A friend of mine and I discussed the kinds of things one regularly purchases at Wal-Mart, and what Mom and Pop we would buy them from in lieu of purchase at Wal-Mart. We asked each other where we would shop today for the following items. We found that a bunch of the stuff WalMart sells is stuff we'd buy at Kroger, Home Depot, Target, Academy, Sears etc. If anyone cares to help us out, let me know what Mom and Pops you go to now to purchase the following items which will be available at WalMart.

1. Television.

2. Six pack of tube socks.

3. Video game.

4. DVD.

5. Pair of filp-flops.

6. Shotgun shells.

7. Sleeping bag.

8 Inflatable kiddie pool.

9. Four new tires.

10. Lawnmower.

11. Swingset.

12. Laundry detergent.

13. Outdoor Christmas lights.

14. Cell phone.

15. Igloo cooler.

What Mom and Pop businesses are really around anymore -- Antigues, second hand clothing, pottery and art galleries, quality clothing and jewelery? Is what's left of the Mom and Pop stores something that has a need to fear WalMart at all? With the exception of hardware (a dying breed) isn't most of what is purchased at WalMart already purchased by the consumer at other, albeit specialized, big box stores like Circuit City or Home Depot or Academy?

Don't know. Just curious how some of you might answer.

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SilverJK    151

I don't think Watson is a good comparison... its not really a usable cut-through street as it has speed bumps, stop signs, and that weird side step at Pecore. It is faster to take White Oak over to Studewood or if your going to north of the loop, white oak over to Yale. (this is of course assuming you want to avoid interstates).

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callisthenes    14

This might sound silly, but I emailed Trader's Joe and asked them to come to Houston, TX. I think they would do well near the Heights as opposed to Wal-Mart. You never know, it might work :)

If you want to suggest a location for Trader's Joe, go here: http://www.traderjoes.com/about/location-requests-form.asp

If you have never heard of Trader's Joe, it's kind of like a Whole Foods, but will more reasonable prices. They have locatoins in about 20 states, but none in Texas. People rave about it.

My current hypothesis is that Trader Joe's has thus far avoided Texas because of our liquor laws (they sell hard stuff in their stores) and/or the alcohol beverage lobby. Or it could have to do with their Wst coast-based distribution system. I'm not sure why they just opened a store in Omaha, NE rather than say, San Angelo or Pflugerville.

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Jesse    37

My current hypothesis is that Trader Joe's has thus far avoided Texas because of our liquor laws (they sell hard stuff in their stores) and/or the alcohol beverage lobby. Or it could have to do with their Wst coast-based distribution system. I'm not sure why they just opened a store in Omaha, NE rather than say, San Angelo or Pflugerville.

I'm pretty sure their stores in MA only sell wine and beer. I thought I heard somewhere that they focus more on their distribution lines, and how quickly/cheaply they can get their wares into stores from their supply centers. Granted, we have a pretty large port down here that they could utilize. But they must just not have warehouses nearby or something.

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RedScare    1636

I'm pretty sure their stores in MA only sell wine and beer. I thought I heard somewhere that they focus more on their distribution lines, and how quickly/cheaply they can get their wares into stores from their supply centers. Granted, we have a pretty large port down here that they could utilize. But they must just not have warehouses nearby or something.

What a coincidence. That's exactly what Walmart does. That's why they are building 3 stores within 10 miles of each other. How interesting that it is good business when Trader Joes does it, but some think it evil when Walmart does it.

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callisthenes    14

What a coincidence. That's exactly what Walmart does. That's why they are building 3 stores within 10 miles of each other. How interesting that it is good business when Trader Joes does it, but some think it evil when Walmart does it.

Yeah, there’s a lot of WalMart “hate” out there.

Some object to WalMart on “moral grounds”, which I gather is in part a result of being in the habit of using WalMart as a proxy to relieve personal angst over consumerism, affluence, evolution of small town life or urban development.

Just as likely the reaction is a result of something as simple as branding. Target is the good “big box” store that sells cheap Chinese made products (brought to you by chic “designers”!) to whoever will buy them. Walmart is the bad “big box” store that destroys neighborhoods in order to sell cheap Chinese made products to whoever will buy them.

I don’t recall the same reaction with the Sawyer Heights project as is seen for this one. Based on my interactions, there was much joy in the Heights that Target was targeting our neighborhood. Maybe I’m misremembering?

Funny thing is the same employee pool Target uses would be used by WalMart, because jobs at both places require similar skill sets, with just about the same pay scales and benefits. The same customer base shopping at Target now would be shopping at WalMart. The current expansion of the frontage road would relieve traffic pressures on Yale. All opponents are left with is the moral affront, or maybe there’s some endangered species currently occupying that open lot.

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s3mh    246

What a coincidence. That's exactly what Walmart does. That's why they are building 3 stores within 10 miles of each other. How interesting that it is good business when Trader Joes does it, but some think it evil when Walmart does it.

A Wal-Mart supercenter is anywhere from 150,000 sq ft to over 200,000. The average Trader Joe's is about 10,000 sq ft to 15,000 sq ft. There is simply no comparison in terms of burden on the neighborhood between a Trader Joe's and a Wal-Mart supercenter.

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TheNiche    969

A Wal-Mart supercenter is anywhere from 150,000 sq ft to over 200,000. The average Trader Joe's is about 10,000 sq ft to 15,000 sq ft. There is simply no comparison in terms of burden on the neighborhood between a Trader Joe's and a Wal-Mart supercenter.

I'd bet that a Trader Joes generates more trips per equivalent square foot of floor area than does a Wal-Mart Supercenter. So adjust for that, and then bear in mind that the rest of the land area would probably still be used for retail.

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s3mh    246

Yeah, there’s a lot of WalMart “hate” out there.

Some object to WalMart on “moral grounds”, which I gather is in part a result of being in the habit of using WalMart as a proxy to relieve personal angst over consumerism, affluence, evolution of small town life or urban development.

Just as likely the reaction is a result of something as simple as branding. Target is the good “big box” store that sells cheap Chinese made products (brought to you by chic “designers”!) to whoever will buy them. Walmart is the bad “big box” store that destroys neighborhoods in order to sell cheap Chinese made products to whoever will buy them.

I don’t recall the same reaction with the Sawyer Heights project as is seen for this one. Based on my interactions, there was much joy in the Heights that Target was targeting our neighborhood. Maybe I’m misremembering?

Funny thing is the same employee pool Target uses would be used by WalMart, because jobs at both places require similar skill sets, with just about the same pay scales and benefits. The same customer base shopping at Target now would be shopping at WalMart. The current expansion of the frontage road would relieve traffic pressures on Yale. All opponents are left with is the moral affront, or maybe there’s some endangered species currently occupying that open lot.

Since when did morals not count anymore? It is funny how you hear endless talk about how people in the US have lost their moral center and how we need to return to family values. But, when it comes to business, values are just 60s hippy junk that should be crushed in the name of profits for shareholders. Morals do matter.

Target avoided major opposition by approaching the community and listening to concerns from the neighborhood before the development started. That is partly why you don't see a giant superstore and have the bike path going through the development. By contrast, Wal-Mart, Ainbinder and the City laid low and didn't start listening to the community until the uproar started.

Traffic on Yale will be miserable with 5 lights in the space of a half mile from I-10 to Washington and increased traffic from the new I-10E exit. And who knows how traffic engineers will handle left turns amongst that mess.

According to the Institute for Traffic Engineers, an average Wal-Mart will generate an average of 10,000 car trips per day. http://www.againstthewal.com/studies/MarkWolfeBigBoxCCMeasureCalcs021004.htm The property on Yale has no direct access to the new feeder. Most everyone that wants to go to the proposed Wal-Mart will have to go on Yale St. and come back out Yale. Yale will be a mess.

With Wal-Mart supercenters going in at I-10 and Silber and 45 and Crosstimbers, there is no reason to give Ainbinder and Wal-Mart taxpayer handouts to put a Wal-Mart where it does not fit and has major opposition. There are now 3500+ members of the Stop Wal-Mart facebook groups. Meetings are scheduled, people are lining up to speak before City council, and the City is starting to realize that they can't ignore those who are opposed.

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