Southfield council says no to Walmart, rejects rezoning plan

Southfield council says no to Walmart, rejects rezoning plan

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By FOX 2 News Staff

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -- The city of Southfield is saying no to Walmart.

In a 5-1 vote, members of city council rejected rezoning plans that would have turned the old St. Bede Church and School at the intersection of Twelve Mile and Southfield roads into a 130,000 square foot Walmart super center.

Countless residents lined up at a council meeting Monday trying to convince members to vote no.

"The traffic is already just horrendous, and I think it will only get worse," one person said.

Southfield like other communities has had to slash its budget and city services.  Proponents feel this would increase the tax base, adding money to the general fund.  However, the concern from most came down to what this would do to local businesses and traffic that is already congested.

"That property is just not built for it.  It's like trying to squeeze a size nine foot into a size six shoe.  Plan may be good, but again it's too big and too intense for the corner," said Stephanie English.

"Redevelopment is essential.  The master plan of the city calls for business development in this location, and the tax base of the city, which continues to dwindle, makes it imperative that the council act and say we are open for business," said Tom Bassett.

"The vocal opposition doesn't represent the majority of opinion in the community, and that opinion is demonstrated clearly by our customers as they shop the stores.  We will have thousands of residents shopping at this location," said Erik Hingst from Walmart Public Affairs.

Councilman Donald Facassi, who was the mayor of the city for more than 30 years, claims he has never experienced pressure from the public like this.  He says he has received calls from people all over the country expressing their opposition.  He is for redevelopment, but he is not yet sure if this is the right fit.

"We want our city to be safe and secure and provide the quality of services we provide.  For that you need revenue," he said.

The Archdiocese of Detroit owns the property and we're told it has already agreed to sell it to Walmart if the city council agrees and votes to rezone the property.

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