Walmart loses fight over commercial real estate zoning

Many New Jersey residents love shopping at their local Walmart. Residents of Southfield, Michigan, on the other hand, were not quick to welcome a Walmart in the area. The prominent retailer was shot down by the city council when it discussed its plans to turn vacant land into commercial real estate.

The property is currently owned by the Archdiocese of Detroit and was once the home of a church and school. Vacant for five years, the land represented an opportunity for expansion in the eyes of Walmart representatives.

The city council, however, voted against the request 5-1. The January 28th meeting lasted until well after midnight as 72 people signed up to voice their concerns. Many cited traffic congestion as the main reason for their protest. The proposed construction site is at one of the busiest intersections in the city and adding a Walmart there would make the traffic even worse. Walmart did state that it had plans for traffic control, including new signals, but Southfield residents were still not convinced.

The addition of a new Walmart would have also impacted the zoning laws in the area. The lot would have had to be commercially zoned for a retail shop. Zoning laws regulate many aspects of a building, such as its height, design and setback from the street. They would also regulate activities such as noise levels and waste management. The type of zoning also determines the size of the parking lot, since a busy retail store such as Walmart would need enough parking spaces for all the customers. Due to the complexity of zoning laws and other regulations regarding commercial real estate, it can be difficult to close a deal. Experienced attorneys can not only anticipate potential problems or issues before they arise but also help companies respond to the challenges that come up along the way.

Source: ClickOnDetroit, " No New Walmart for Southfield," Jan. 29, 2013


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