It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Wal-Mart

After weeks on end of paint-drying bureaucratic tedium and yawn-inducing dispatches from The Zoning Zone so boring Jeff Jack himself wouldn't touch them if they involved a drive-thru porn and liquor emporium opening in the base of a 600-foot point tower on West Lynn Street, could next week's City Council meeting – the last of the year – finally provide any modicum of intrigue or excitement? Looks that way.

Thank God (or Wal-Mart) – it's the Christmas Miracle!

First and foremost in everyone's minds will be the big box ordinance's appearance before the council. Tentatively turning up at noon to demonstrate for its passage will be members from Responsible Growth for Northcross, the Wal-Mart foes presumably arriving in force and en masse. But the ordinance, now all but assured passage thanks to the controversy, is likely to have little effect on Wal-Mart's designs for the mall. Instead, barring a revelation along the lines of Toby Futrell and Betty Dunkerley being Sam Walton's illegitimate love-children, the victory Thursday may be entirely pyrrhic, having little effect on the company's plan. Instead, the continued outcry of the effectively organized neighborhood groups is their best weapon.

The greater irony may be this: if the swirl of allegations about city staff stalling out the ordinance are to be believed, saying their plan backfired is an enormously charitable understatement. While the ordinance has been close to many a LiveableCitizen's heart for some time, its multi-parcel approach (economic/traffic/local business) initially made it somewhat of a hard sell. Ask me to tell you exactly what it does – require conditional permitting for stores over 100,000 square feet – and I can do that. Ask me how it does that, and I have no clue. And I doubt I'm alone. Add in some actual reluctance to the economic impact component – not just from the Tobyocracy, but from council – and it's passage was anything but assured. Had the ordinance organically wound its way through the city earlier this year, I wouldn't be surprised if the thing died a quiet death of its own accord. But now, with the Bentonville Beast braying at the door, and Futrell flunking the smell test, big box is the season's cause célèbre. In the season of fruitcake, let's call it just desserts.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at austinchronicle.com/opinion.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More City Council
Inching Toward Higher Heights to Get More Housing
Inching Toward Higher Heights to Get More Housing
Advocates for low-income tenants urge a go-slow approach

Maggie Q. Thompson, June 13, 2022

Council Recap: A Balanced Budget, Without Much Drama
Council Recap: A Balanced Budget, Without Much Drama
But many hours of deliberation over two days on the dais

Austin Sanders, Aug. 13, 2021

More Growth & Development
Visa Wants a Chargeback
Visa Wants a Chargeback
Governor and city propose economic development deal

Michael King, Nov. 26, 2012

The Check's In the Mail: Grant Awarded to Austin
The Check's In the Mail: Grant Awarded to Austin
Region gets gov't grant for housing and development

Eric Pickhartz, Oct. 15, 2010

More by Wells Dunbar
Top 10 City Council Stories
Top 10 City Council Stories
Dais and months

Jan. 6, 2012

City Hall Hustle: The Hustle Bids Farewell ...
City Hall Hustle: The Hustle Bids Farewell ...
To the beating hearts of a great city

Dec. 30, 2011

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

City Council, Growth & Development, Big Box, Toby Futrell, Wal-Mart, Northcross

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle