After nearly five hours spent on a public hearing over a proposed Wal-Mart Feb. 7, tempers wore thin, council members traded barbs and maybe killed the project, then some openly complained about the decision process.
Council members Derek Holland and David Mosby lamented the inconsistency of council decisions between Hy-Vee, Price Chopper and Wal-Mart, saying that will drive away development. Councilmember Allan Gray asked why city staff doesn’t address traffic concerns before public hearings, saying it wasted time for the council, the applicant and public.
City Manager Steve Arbo responded that staff follows the city policy, which was set earlier by a different council, which says intersections around proposed projects must meet a ‘service level C.’
“I can assure you that the staff consistently applies that level of service on every single application that comes in. It is late, we’re all tired, I would say hooray to Councilmember Holland because you’ve expressed exactly some of the frustrations that we have on this side of the dias, that is when we come forward with that level of service C and it doesn’t work out for certain applicants that you guys have preferences for, you go ahead and ignore it.
And then when Wal-Mart comes forward and we apply the level of service C and it works, and you want a little bit more, you tell us to go get more.
And I think really what we’ve got to have from council, and I’m not trying to put it all on you, but I’m going to assure you we’ve been using the same of level service, the same measuring stick for every single one of these applications that are coming in. It sounds terrible, but you all are the ones that are wavering on this, you’re the ones going on one side or the other. And so here we were with Langsford Road needing the medians to protect a turning movement and a bunch of talking about the number of traffic accidents that were there and you ignored it. And Wal-Mart comes in, they do everything they’re asked to do to provide safe traffic and you guys ask for more.
And it’s late and I apologize, I’m probably short right now, I probably need to shut it down, but I’m just asking, let’s set standards, being consistent with it. Then when the staff comes and says, this is your standard that you set and it meets it, then let’s go with it. Let’s not be moving it from one side of the fence to the other. And that’s exactly how we got into this fix that we did tonight. Thank you, I’m sorry, I apologize.”
City Manager Steve Arbo