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Councilman: Up to 6 Wal-Mart markets coming to town

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Councilman Scott Bailes was one of two council members to vote against the annexation of roughly 11 acres at the intersection of Republic Road and Farm Road 135/Golden Avenue, and the rezoning of property planned for a Walmart Neighborhood Market. He said he’s concerned about the impact the stores could have on businesses in the area if, as he’d heard, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is bringing as many as six Neighborhood Markets to town.

Bailes said he’s received calls from neighbors - who had opposed plans for a Walmart near the intersection of East Sunshine Street and South Blackman Road - that the company was bringing a Neighborhood Market to that area. He did not say if he’d confirmed those plans with the company. Bailes could not be reached for comment by press time.

"That’s right where citizens have told us they didn’t want one before,” Bailes said. He said increased sales tax figures had been cited with the store planned for East Republic Road, but that he felt that local jobs could be lost from such a move. “We’re talking about redistributing the same money," he told council. "It’s not as if 20,000 new people are coming to town.”

Mayor Jim O’Neal said he didn’t feel the city should stand in the way of development coming to the area, and he didn’t think it was fair to suggest that such plans could cause an overall loss of jobs. He said Wal-Mart had a right to develop here, and the only question in his mind was whether the city would benefit from the annexation in the form of increased tax revenue.

"I can see no reason not to (approve the annexation and rezoning) that is not arbitrary and capricious,” O’Neal said.

Council approved the pair of bills by a 7-2 vote. Councilman Tom Bieker joined Bailes in his opposition to the plans.

"At some point, we have to take stock in what we value and decide what we want to protect,” Councilman Tom Bieker said. “I don’t think we should be sending money down the road to Bentonville, and if this happens, you can multiply that by six.”

Calls to Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Morales were not returned by deadline. Morales previously acknowledged the plans for a Republic Road store but said he would need to find out more information when questioned about the plans submitted to the city for a store at the corner of Glenstone Avenue and Bennett Street.[[In-content Ad]]

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