Northcross Wal-Mart Fight Update
Responsible Growth for Northcross says court loss does not signal end of anti-Wal-Mart battle
In between poker tournaments in Las Vegas last week, your morally dissolute correspondent attempted to contact the major players in the Responsible Growth for Northcross lawsuit. I was only successful in reaching Jason Meeker, communications chair for RG4N. In its suit, RG4N asserted the city of Austin did not follow its own rules in approving Lincoln Property's site plan to build a Wal-Mart on the former Northcross Mall property; in her Dec. 21 decision, District Court Judge Orlinda Naranjo ruled in favor of the city. A notable feature of her decision was that, despite the fact the suit relied on four major claims, Naranjo only addressed the charge that the proposed Wal-Mart's garden center did not meet the proper zoning regulations.
Asked what went wrong with the case, Meeker replied, "The main thing that was wrong was that we had to go to court in the first place."
But he said the court loss does not signal the end of the anti-Wal-Mart fight. "We are exactly where we were a year ago," he said. "There is a development with a city-approved site plan. We lost in court, and that hurts. We have not lost in the court of public opinion, and it's up to our group and citizens to get together and organize and continue to protest what we see as irresponsible development. It could be argued by others that we have not pushed a very high-profile battle in the court of public opinion, but we were concentrating on funding our court battle. We still have many options available. In particular, there is [a City Council] election five months away. We are looking very closely at the options available to us regarding the election and how we can leverage popular support to either stopping or getting more meaningful concessions."
Of course, one way RG4N might "leverage support" is by electing Meeker to City Council; he has made noises about challenging Place 1 incumbent Lee Leffingwell. "I'm pretty certain I'm going to run," Meeker said. "The verdict didn't have a consequence one way or the other on my decision." He said he's been holding off on officially throwing his hat into the ring because, "I've been trying to prioritize what's best for RG4N, in that I had to work, and the verdict was the only concentration I wanted to have, and I didn't want to muddy that with a council run."
RG4N will be holding a town-hall meeting in Wozniak Hall at St. Louis King of France Catholic Church, 7601 Burnet Rd., on Friday, Jan. 11, at 7pm. "I wish I knew exactly what we'll be doing at the meeting, but we'll be calling it 'Fight Club,'" Meeker said. "And in this case, you can talk about Fight Club."