UPDATE: Final Push for the ‘Shape Sioux Falls’ recall petition

I got word a little bit ago that they got well over the 5,100 signatures needed, but are still collecting signatures and trying to turn in as many as possible by 5 PM today. They will hopefully make a public announcement about it later today. Looks like there may be a pretty crowded ballot come Spring of 2014.


Event Details


#1 Tom H. on 04.18.13 at 4:44 pm

I guess I’m still not sure what they want to do to the ordinance. Are there specific sections they want to add, like “No big box stores near high-priced homes”? Or do they just want to add a “No Walmart” clause?

The main reason I’m disappointed in this recall effort is because the people involved are frustrated with outcomes, rather than process, and this document is a process document.

Argue all you want about citizen input, City Council time restrictions, whatever – those aren’t issues with the planning and zoning document.

#2 GregN on 04.18.13 at 5:23 pm

I think the motivation largely is that if they get enough signatures, Shape Places cannot be put into effect until an election next year. That means we revert to the old ordinance. In the old ordinance a conditional use permit is required over and above a rezone to C-4 for a store the size of Walmart. I think what they’re going for is adding that additional step that Shape Places eliminates so they have more input and another hearing to try to kill it outright. That’s my educated guess as to what is going on.

#3 Joan on 04.18.13 at 8:55 pm

According to what I read in the Argus, I think today, it also includes the fact that people living in a house can’t put any kind of sign between the house and side walk for any length of time. I’m assuming this is because of the hullabaloo about signs supporting certain schools last fall or whenever.

#4 Joan on 04.18.13 at 8:56 pm

I should have added my own opinion—-what in heck business is it of anybody’s if a resident wants to have a sign up in their yard between the house and sidewalk.

#5 Craig on 04.18.13 at 9:18 pm

Just a reminder why zoning laws are good things.


#6 GregN on 04.18.13 at 9:41 pm

There has been some misunderstanding about signs in shape places. Signs did have a LOT of changes. It was totally rewritten essentially – in some cases more restrictive and others less depending on the type of sign and zone. Today NO sign is allowed in your yard at all in residential districts. So those Sioux Falls Catholic School signs you see are illegal today. Shape places actually adds an allowance for a small amount of noncommercial signage in your yard like those signs. So shape places adds MORE rights to a residential property owner. Signs are always a contentious issue – I will just leave it at that. The old and new zoning ordinance also tells you what type of fence you can have, how high, where it can be, where you can pave, where you can park, where your structures can be, etc. Zoning ordinances control all sorts of your land use in your yard – good or bad. In many cases shape places gives you more rights – for example fences are liberalized. Many things change like the procedures and public hearing process. It’s about 300 pages. There are a lot of parts. Citizens really should look at the documents including the shape places draft with the old ordinance in it with strike throughs to see what has changed. It’s all there to read at siouxfalls.org/planning under the shape places link. There are a lot of major implications and disruptions if shape places is put on hold actually so it will be interesting to see if they get sufficient signatures. The only positive that I could see coming out of it could be increased public awareness of the zoning code. That would only be a good thing.

#7 Jackilope on 04.18.13 at 10:12 pm

Just gut feeling, but i think there are going to safely be enough signatures. I dropped off a page and 1/2 of signatures — and there were several before and several after me getting the petitions notarized.

#8 OleSlewFoot on 04.18.13 at 10:23 pm

If Shape Places is put to a vote and defeated, Sioux Falls goes to the 1983 zoning ordinances. All commercial would actually be C-4 with conditional use above 1 acre. Development will continue, just at a different way than is now in place. Shape Places is better for SF. Unfortunately people in the area of 85th/Minn area thought they would have a pasture to look at forever. Over 10 years ago a 6 lane highway was planned near that intersection before they even thought of building. Shame on their builder and/or realtor. The best they can hope for is a berm to help buffer. Go east of 85th/Minn, that addition has already prepared for the Hwy 100 loop with limited access and a berm.

#9 GregN on 04.18.13 at 11:45 pm

It does appear they have more than enough signatures. Per South Dakota statute in terms of timing of an election:
“The election will be held at the next annual municipal election or county general election unless the governing body chooses to conduct a special election. If a special election is opted for, the election date must be set within ten days of the filing of the petition and the election must be on a Tuesday not less than 30 days from the day it was sent.”
Both options seem fraught with risk. Put it to a special election and I can’t help but wonder if it doesn’t have a high risk of repeal based on who would be motivated to actually show up to vote on a zoning ordinance. I also worry deeply about people really being educated on what they are voting on. The zoning ordinance is a large document that gets pretty wonky unless you’ve spent some time learning the ins and outs and terminology. I don’t think most people would have any idea how the old and new differ (good or bad). If it is put to a vote next year we’re talking about another year under the new ordinance and the turnout may be/will be far larger with one or more items on the ballot and council up for election. Voting on this in its entirety really is the wrong way to go. We should fine tune a few areas if that’s what citizens want. This could have some pretty serious unintended consequences. And what if it gets voted down. Then what?

#10 hornguy on 04.19.13 at 3:28 am

I worked with land use and regulatory issues for a number of years in a legislative environment dealing with stakeholders all over the ideological map – realtors, developers, environmental groups, you name it. They all make great, thoughtful points, even when they’re not agreeing. You know who didn’t make great, thoughtful points on land use issues? 99% of the constituents I spoke to. And now we’re potentially going to ask people who don’t have the foggiest idea about something to vote on it? Delightful. Democracy at its worst, right here.

Tom H. is dead on. A bunch of upper-middle class suburbanites wound up about one particular outcome (which is going to be hung on them either way) are going to spitefully gum up a carefully considered process document in its entirety rather than focus their efforts on their specific complaints. Which of course they can’t do, because their actual concern has *nothing* to do with Shape Sioux Falls and everything to do with the Walmart they don’t want but are going to get either way.

This is one of the real failings of a system that makes an it far too easy for citizens to petition matters to referendum. Five percent of registered voters? Are you kidding? Who *can’t* rustle up 5k signatures in three weeks? I could stand outside a Hy-Vee with some of my friends for three weeks and get 5,100 people to sign a petition making me the King of Sioux Falls. People will sign virtually anything.

#11 GregN on 04.19.13 at 9:08 am

Thank you hornguy for eloquently saying what I was trying to dance around nicely. The only relation Shape Places has to this Walmart proposal is very indirect – it only involves the exact process and hearings involved. Either way this proposal would have happened. There is nothing in the proposal/project that depends on anything new in Shape Places. I have friends in the 85th/Audie area. I politely but vehemently disagreed with them last night on this. I can tell you, just being honest, they don’t have a clue what is in the zoning ordinance. They haven’t read it. Never have, probably never will. But they were out gathering signatures to repeal it. A lot of people have spent several years crafting this. I provided various input and it made it into the ordinance. Most people have the capacity to grasp it, but it does take time. You have to carefully read and cross reference definitions, learn the terminology, sometimes see some examples on paper, and be diligent about it. I just can’t see most people spending hours/days educating themselves on the nuances of the new ordinance and how it differs from the old one. If someone votes at all, its probably going to be based on what they heard from someone – and based on what I’ve read and heard so far there is a lot of misunderstanding/misinformation. We could possibly throw out something years in the making that has a lot of good things going for it for no good reason. I know what the neighborhood is going for, they’re putting up one more hurdle trying to kill the Walmart. I get their motivation, but this isn’t the way to go about it. The battle over Walmart, whether it should happen here, and if so how traffic should flow and how it should be oriented, is a separate battle. So far what I’ve heard from talking to people in that area is that this isn’t about land use, large commercial, and traffic as much as its about Walmart. This reminds me of the 69th/Cliff proposal. Had that been a Super Target there wouldn’t have been a controversy. This again does not appear to be about land use. It appears to be more about Walmart – actually to be more accurate its about not wanting that class of people in their area. Once again no one will admit that in a public forum, but we all basically know what this is about.

#12 Detroit Lewis on 04.19.13 at 9:36 am

While I wasn’t opposed to Shape Sioux Falls or the recent annexation, I do have a problem with the way it was all rammed through. Grandpa Jimbob’s Neighborhood Grocer would not have gotten that kind of expedite and attention. Would agree, the realtor kinda hoodwinked these people, BUT, in all fairness, you must admit, they should have known, SOMETHING, was going to be built at that location, it just happens to be a Walmart.

#13 hornguy on 04.19.13 at 11:07 am

I would agree in part with the speed of the process. But on the flip side, perhaps that’s also indicative of how things *should* work in a regulatory environment. Shape Sioux Falls, to its credit, was the first comprehensive consideration of the city’s land use policies in ages. If one develops a process document that contemplates many of the “what ifs” in advance, one doesn’t necessarily need to bog the process down through the traditional conditional use framework, regardless of the type of development involved.

One of the hazards of conditional use is the manner in which the approval process lends itself to becoming highly arbitrary in nature. Look no further than the Walmart proposal last year for 69th and Cliff, which is my neighborhood. That ultimately died on a refusal to rezone the outlot area, but note that Hy-Vee had a purchase option on that parcel for a number of years and nobody in that neighborhood said beans about it. We would’ve LOVED to have a Hy-Vee there. I know this because I see how much busier the 57th and Cliff Hy-Vee is relative to the Sunshine Foods that preceded it. So a 150,000 ft2 Hy-Vee would’ve been super, but a 180,000 ft2 Walmart was a sign of the end times.

If you buy a lot on the outskirts of town adjacent to a future arterial and across from undeveloped property, you should darn well know that you’re buying risk, and that should be priced into the lot. That property will be developed, and you will have virtually no say in what that development will look like. You don’t want those variables, go buy a house in an established neighborhood where all the surrounding property is developed.

If Shape Sioux Falls goes to referendum and fails, the City Council should just bring it up at the next meeting and pass it again verbatim. By then, the 85th and Minnesota Walmart will be almost done and NOBODY is going to care about this issue. Nobody cares about it now, but for those who are using it as a Trojan horse for their dislike of Walmart.

#14 GregN on 04.19.13 at 12:00 pm

To further what hornguy said, the Hy-Vee at 69th and Cliff actually had a conditional use hearing at the planning commission. This was after the new law that required written letters to adjacent land owners. You can go watch that meeting still on SIRE. No one even showed up to object, and it was essentially the same size and footprint as the Walmart proposal. It passed of course but never happened because of the Hy-Vee acquisition of the Sunshine up the road.
Also totally agree on personal responsibility. When I was shopping for a new home last October I had a long list of rules and filters from what I have learned from past homes I’ve owned and what I’ve seen about what can happen with zoning (nothing is forever). So I did a lot of due diligence and eliminated a lot of properties because of it. I knew the street classifications around me, the zoning district, checked on all building permits ever pulled, etc of each property I looked at. I had some hard rules in place. I wasn’t going to live anywhere near an arterial. I wasn’t going to live on a collector, only a local street. I would not buy anywhere that wasn’t built up for at least a few blocks around me, no vacant lots. Those were some of my requirements. I did a lot of talking to the city and eliminated some that were very promising. I guess the point is you can’t just build along a road that is an arterial with vacant land across the street from you and assume its always going to be a little two lane road with corn fields forever.
You also cannot just trust a realtor. Most know nothing about zoning. You have to do your own due diligence.

If it is legal to bring Shape Places back up shortly after it gets defeated (IF it does) I would totally agree on that. I’ll be curious to know if that is allowed. I presume so, but I have no idea.

Whether to do the conditional use permit route that leads to totally arbitrary and unique regulations on each project or a clear cut preset rule structure like Shape Places requires is a good discussion we should have, but not by voting on repeal (or not) of the whole document. A vigorous debate and amendment, perhaps on which way to go on say even just the large ‘forms’ (buildings) in the C-4 district in recognition of how contentious they can be would be a good thing. Its typically these big box items that are the major issues.

The major philosophy of Shape Places is that ‘zoning matters’. Meaning, at the rezoning we should be discussing impacts and whether that land in its location is appropriate for that land use (like a big box) – regardless of the identity of that big box/store. In Shape Places, the fight is at the rezoning, because a C-4 allows an unlimited building size, so you argue at that point whether a big box is appropriate at that location (forget who it is). If it is appropriate, the rules, which are extensive are already codified and laid out in advance that tells a builder/developer the ground rules up front, what landscaping they must have, how far said structure has to be from various ‘sensitive’ uses, the list goes on and on. In the old ordinance the rezone to C-4 just gives you the ability to request to build a big box. Without a conditional use permit, you could just get a permit for a 15,000 square foot building (no hearings). But if you wanted bigger you had to get a conditional use permit. That triggered a planning commission hearing and possibly a council appeal. The commission can add any stipulation they want to that mitigates impacts to adjacent development and based on neighbor concern. Going in the builder/developer has no idea what conditions might get placed. They might have to reorient the building, add fences, add various landscaping, change parking. It makes it all very unique and somewhat random. That could be a bad thing. Some could argue its good because then you can attach conditions based on that unique property and unique set of circumstances around that property.

Finally, having been very involved in Shape Places and also following the annexation/rezone for this Walmart, neither was rushed or ‘rammed’ through. There have been public hearings no different than what we usually have with opportunity for debate. There are complaints that we should ‘slow down’ on Shape Places. This has been years in the making and out for review for months. Those complaining didn’t get involved until the Walmart came up, and now suddenly they realize that zoning actually matters to them, which it does to everyone. Although Shape Places adoption and the Walmart are close in time to each other, neither has anything to do with the other. Its not like Shape Places was necessary for this proposal to go forward. Its still going to move forward and be accepted or rejected per the process.

#15 rufusx on 04.19.13 at 2:54 pm

Drove by the proposed Walmart site just a few minutes ago. Not a house of any kind within 1/2 mile. This is seriously bogus.

#16 Detroit Lewis on 04.19.13 at 3:06 pm

This is how I look at it. Not sure how I will vote on it, but a major policy change like this needs to go to the vote of the people, especially with the current planning commission and city council. Changes of this enormity really need to be approved by voters.

#17 Testor15 on 04.19.13 at 3:08 pm

1/2 mile 1/2 block, it does not matter when established procedures are not followed.

The Walmart may be dreaded by most of us but when the rules and laws are tilted toward any big box or favored business citizens have a right to fight it.

Sioux Falls coded law is not only for the specials of our country. This is why there is a fight on so many issues right now going to a vote next year.

#18 OleSlewFoot on 04.19.13 at 3:19 pm

This is going to hurt progress of residential/multiuse development and downtown area renewal much more than it is going to do for stopping commercial development anywhere – IF Shape Places is repealed.

As has been stated above, Walmart/development at 85th/Minn will march on as all commercial reverts to C4 under the old zoning ordinance. They may just have to tweak their plans a little.

The question I also have is “Does the old ordinance automatically go into effect once the petitions have been verified valid to force an election?”

#19 GregN on 04.19.13 at 4:12 pm

I am pretty sure the old ordinance stays in effect once the signatures are verified. No action can take place on the referred ordinance I don’t believe in the interim before an election. So I believe we just keep using the existing 1983 zoning ordinance. So mostly business as usual, except that developments which only worked with the new zoning ordinance mixed use options like the one at 12th and Tea Ellis might stop dead in their tracks – at least for a while. There are also projects for infill development in the downtown area involving row houses that I don’t think can go without Shape Places.
My big concern will continue to be if the voters are INFORMED. I only want voters showing up who are informed. If you aren’t willing to spend a lot of time reading the ordinance and knowing what you are really talking about, please don’t vote. Please. I seriously doubt most people are going to do this. This could be a disaster. I believe we’re going to be presented with an all or none. This is a large ordinance. What if people vote to repeal a 300+ page ordinance because there is one little thing about say fences they don’t like? I have some issues here and there with the ordinance, but I fought as best I could and won some, but lost some. On the whole I supported it because I wouldn’t vote no on it in its entirety over a few nitpicks. We won’t be talking about amending a few things here and there, we’re talking an all or none deal. It’s not good enough to take what you heard from your friend or some quote you saw from someone in the paper who lives in the area near the proposed Walmart. There’s already been misinformation presented (I don’t think necessarily on purpose). I’m not trying to be insulting, but I’m being realistic. It is a lot to try to understand and most people are not going to take the time to really figure out the differences between the new and old. We should be amending, not voting up or down on the whole thing. And we have to keep coming back to this proposal and its future is not affected by Shape Places. One doesn’t have to do with the other.

#20 Testor15 on 04.19.13 at 7:28 pm

GregN, similar concerns during the South Dakota Constitution updates undertaken during the 1970’s by Dr. Farber’s Revision Commission caused the changes to be voted on piecemeal. Each major change was discussed and voted on then supported by the informed voters. Why should we have an all or nothing change to zoning with all the hidden favoritism clauses probably inside. How do we know? The city should have nothing to hid in an open discussion.

The problem we keep returning to is the lack of openness with our salesman mayor. We are only told a certain amount and usually after all the decisions are made. This mistrust is the basis for the reluctance of the thousands of signers to accept the code as a whole.

Currently we do not trust SubPrime, officials and the council to do the right thing for us the majority owners of the government. If the elected officials do not like the citizens second guessing their ‘leadership’, resign or don’t run in the first place.

#21 cr on 04.19.13 at 8:00 pm

Who developed the subdivision at 85th and Audie?

#22 hornguy on 04.20.13 at 12:32 am

In fairness Testor, we’re talking about allowing 5 percent of registered voters to hijack decisions of elected officials. With a threshold like that, most cities and states would call us friggin’ nuts. Or California – and we see how well the referendum process works to improve governance there. Anyway, to try and extrapolate from 6,000 signatures some kind of massive, brooding discontent (especially when we have no idea of what kinds of innuendo and half-truths circulators were peddling) is a bit hyperbolic.

Like I said earlier, people will sign nearly anything if you ask them nicely. And to second GregN’s concern, voters are rarely interested in having facts to justify their opinions, especially when obtaining and understanding facts is hard. If anyone thinks this Shape Sioux Falls discussion is going to as intelligent as it deserves to be, I’ll sell you the bridge in my backyard. The opposition largely (but not entirely) has shown itself incapable of intelligently discussing land use issues. And speaking of land use issues intelligently only makes the topic more obtuse and less accessible. So I’ll look forward to heaps of demagoguery. That’s how these things always work. Look no further than last year’s Walmart discussion at 69th and Cliff, for which the legitimate reasons to oppose were the ones almost never articulated.

#23 rufusx on 04.20.13 at 1:32 am

Government from the fringe, by the fringe, for the fringe (the referendum process). And if you don’t understand that 5% is FRINGY – and not the great central mass – Google “bell curve”.

#24 cr on 04.20.13 at 8:38 am

Snowgates, swimming pools, zoning, and urban ag…….

I think Jennifer Holsen (jenholsen.blogspot.com) summed it up best:

Take note Mayor and City Council. There appears to be a growing discontent among your citizenry.

#25 cr on 04.20.13 at 8:42 am

Just 12 short months until the next municipal election….

We will have the opportunity to vote for:


Four Council Seats:

Southeast District Sue Aguilar

Central District Michelle Erpenbach

At-Large Jim Entenman
Rex Rolfing

#26 Testor15 on 04.20.13 at 9:42 am

Hornguy, rufusx and all, there are large disconnects between elective and government officials. These officials have developed comfortable relationships with the money powers who run this town and state. The petition drives are just a tip of a very large movement growing in the United States.

The underlying fairness issues are growing and as these issues are causing the usually non-involved to become active. Those who awoke the sleeping masses of the right and left to win elections a few years ago are should now reap the the consequences at the ballot box.

When SubPrime ran for office three years ago he latched onto the discontent of the citizens. The current perception is he has proceeded to use it to benefit his former employer and other special friends.

We see members of the school board and city council who are making decisions based on what appear to be a special friend’s needs and wants. We now have pickleball courts, expanded tennis facilities, projects placed in neighborhoods, zoning rules skirted, civil procedures made criminal and so much more.

Appearances mean more to uninformed citizens. Facts are important to informed voters. There will be a crush of citizens flocking to the polls in 2014 in Sioux Falls and South Dakota looking to get respect. There will also be a huge amount of money spent to keep control in the hands of the specials. Kermit Stagger’s election last year was an indication of the undercurrent but our ‘leaders’ do not understand.

1. Jennifer is right, there is discontent to the poor way our town is operated.
2. DL is right in demanding the officials respect the 1st Amendment.
3. The 85th Street group has enough lawyers involved to understand the law and the rules of law.
4. The Spellerberg pool people understand when a full court press is put on them to crush them.
5. The snowgate people wanted the city to understand the ice issues.
6. The school board has made special deals with an ALEC company to operate a school.
7. The school board has closed schools without due processes taking place.
8. TIFFs benefiting special developers once in effect hurting the county and school district financing and raising resdent’s taxes.
9. Code enforcement issues and unconstitutional fees / fines.
10. Fill in your own ___________________________.

By flooding the media with fake issue ads and publicity events these wannabe leaders will think they can continue to fool the voters. There are now approximately 20,000 signatures from potential voters. Now instead of the 5% showing up to change policy and elected officials, we have actual signatures of more than 25% of the potential voters ready to make major changes. The appearances – perceptions of the more than 9 real discussions upsetting the citizens. These will be the issues driving the next election season. Apologists for the status quo get ready…

#27 rufusx on 04.20.13 at 10:57 am

FWIW Testor – it isn’t your NIMBY protestors that are protecting your individual liberties from neighbors’ boredom – it is ZONING ORDINANCES that are doing so.

#28 hornguy on 04.20.13 at 2:25 pm

“There are now approximately 20,000 signatures from potential voters. Now instead of the 5% showing up to change policy and elected officials, we have actual signatures of more than 25% of the potential voters ready to make major changes.”

Only if you’re assuming that all of the signatures are unique. From my years in politics, let me assure you that there are likely plenty of duplicates in there. People tend to fall into two categories – those who will sign anything and those who will sign nothing. The latter group is much larger than the former but the former group tends to be prolific.

Also, without disagreeing with any of your assertions, Testor, you have quite a habit of speaking expansively in ways that likely are not warranted, at least without you providing actual evidence that you’re speaking on behalf of some great and silent majority out there. It’s clear you seem to *think* that everyone agrees with you, which is usually a dangerous thing to do in politics.

Finally, I’d be careful about reading too much about a guy who got rolled in the last mayoral election getting re-elected to his old gig in an off-year election with low turnout. I appreciate and agree with Kermit on many issues, but I don’t think his return to the council is representative of anything other than name ID and a core group of supporters that is far easier to turn out to the polls. It’s the same reason Republicans almost always perform better in low turnout races.

Far more representative of the electorate in a mayoral election was the turnout for the special on the arena, a battle the mayor won convincingly. I’m not a fan at all of the location but the mayor got his ducks lined up and won the areas outside the interstates by enormous margins. Those who follow council closely might be annoyed with the mayor and some of its members, but the overwhelming majority of voters aren’t in that subset.

Huether beat Staggers with 57%. Then, a year and a half later, the arena wins with 58% in an election that opponents tried to turn into a referendum on the mayor. I’m not saying I’m necessarily the mayor’s biggest fan, but I am capable of putting my opinions aside and evaluating data. I think the mayor is in very good shape for his reelection.

#29 cr on 04.20.13 at 2:28 pm

Anyone who listens to Planning Commission meetings knows that the elimination of conditional use permits has the effect of limiting public input.

This would make most local developers very happy!!

#30 rufusx on 04.20.13 at 3:06 pm

Anyone who understands the proper application of zoning ordinances – especially in the conditional use hearings process – knows that public input is not a significant factor even under the existing ordinances. This country is not a ruled by “the neighbors opinions” – it is a country that operates under the rule of LAW.

#31 rufusx on 04.20.13 at 3:08 pm

Ask testor if he prefers the “rule of the neighbors” approach – or the rule of law approach.

#32 rufusx on 04.20.13 at 3:11 pm

The petitioners in this case, are of course seeking a law that gives them – as “the neighbors” – the final say on any development. I find it highly ironic and even almost laughable that testor would side with them. But then – as was said – some people will sign anything.

#33 cr on 04.20.13 at 5:36 pm

rufusx says……..

Anyone who understands the proper application of zoning ordinances – especially in the conditional use hearings process – knows that public input is not a significant factor even under the existing ordinances.


Northeast corner of 69th and Cliff.

#34 Testor15 on 04.20.13 at 5:52 pm

Having been involved in politics for about 50 years at many different levels the understanding of citizen frustration becomes understandable. If you look at the last mayoral election there was a feeling of power to get the town moving in a positive direction if we had a promoter as mayor. We now see the mistake in the decision to elect a shallow salesman as our mayor. During my career I have worked with many good hard working salespeople, shallow lazy-break every rule salespeople and just plain hucksters. I will not bore you with opinion of our current mayor is in the list of three.

I believe there are probably 15,000 unique signers. Considering this is a town of 150,000, of which 95955 were eligible to vote in 2012 with 1% showing up to vote (less than 1,400 voters).

So let’s now consider we have another blowout electoral year in 2014 and get the 2010 35% turnout again or about 35,000 total votes cast. We start the electoral season with fired-up groups already organized around their pet issues. These fired-up groups grow their organizations on passion (maybe more passion than facts) and enthusiasm. The money spent by mayoral campaigns to build this kind of passion is astronomical. Our mayor and council members up for reelection in 2014 are going to fight an uphill battle to overcome the voter resistance they have cultivated. There are likely 25,000 voters who would show up tomorrow in Sioux Falls to defeat the current officeholders. What would these current officeholders have to do to win reelection?

So to some I may speak ‘expansively’ on voting issues and how public opinion moves. So be it. It comes from the experience of being in the game for many South Dakota election cycles.

The ‘rule of neighbors’ is not the idea behind questioning the recent Walmart type decisions made by the city. The major issue with the Walmart placement was the process by which our officials thumbed their collective noses to the rule of law as adopted by the citizens and codified by the charter. I find it an insult to the city charter to let the officials run roughshod over us and the charter to benefit a select few.

#35 rufusx on 04.20.13 at 10:28 pm

What specific law was/is being broken re: Walmart placement? This isn’t about any law being broken – it’s about “the neighbors” not liking the law.

#36 OleSlewFoot on 04.20.13 at 11:07 pm

So now we assume everyone who signs a petition will actually vote that way? RIIGGHHTT!!

Or even show up to vote? RIIGGHHTT!!

A 30 year old zoning ordinance will be better for SF than one it took around 18 months to develop through meetings and input? RIIGGHHTT!!

30 years ago I used to train my dog to water retrieve in the slew just south and a block west of 57th and Marion Rd. Today I would be throwing my retrieving dummy into a parking lot. Time marches on.

#37 Testor15 on 04.21.13 at 12:02 am

Who said all would vote to allow or defeat a petition? When did signing something decide the way it would go in an election? What the eagerness to sign a petition shows is the unhappiness of the electorate in the process currently being operated.

There is a difference. There is nuance. An analytical thinker would understand the nuance and how it can be used in trending.

On the other hand you need to understand the home rule charter system we currently have and know how it under serves most of the citizens of Sioux Falls. The ease to game the system for the benefit of the specials is upsetting more average residents. Those who do not understand the root of the frustration may be surprised by the potential election results.

#38 ba on 04.21.13 at 1:25 am

As a resident of the neighborhood just north of the proposed 85th and Minnesota Ave, and an active petitioner to refer Shape Places, I will throw in my $0.02 about the ordinance.

Point #1: Lack of public input. Once the planning commission approves a preliminary plan, then public opinion is cut-off. Jeff Schmidt said so himself at the Planning Commission meeting (about the 2hr 15min mark IIRC). The preliminary plan is not reviewed nor approved by city council.

Point #2: Rezoning of property throughout the city. For example, the vacant lot at the northwest corner of 85th and Minn Ave was rezoned to C-3 in Shape Places…under the previous ordinance it was zoned for a 15,000 sq ft church. Another example is the northeast corner of 69th and Cliff. This property was downgraded to C-2 from C-4. No notices were given to adjacent land owners, and rezoning signs were not posted.

Point #3: Creative use of Shape Places by city planners. For the proposed development at 85th and Minn Ave, a small lot was zoned office at the most northwest corner lot of the development (would be at 85th and Audie, which is also the main and ONLY entrance to the shopping center). All of the traffic will move through 85th and Audie, which makes the small sliver lot zoned office a moot point. The traffic at this intersection will be C-4 levels. City planners approved this layout, and it’s disingenuous at best on their part.

rufusx says that there isn’t a house within 1/2 mile of the proposed development…I would tell him to please stop at 85th & Audie and tell me what he sees to the north. Again, this is the main and ONLY entrance to the shopping center as it stands today. Walmart would like to get a right in/out on Minn Ave, but it’s a state highway. The state hasn’t even approved a limited access point on Minn Ave to my knowledge.

I will agree that when this started, it was for selfish reasons to refer Shape Places (at least to me) based on the proposed shopping center. However, after watching what the city has done here, I have shifted my thinking. Development will happen throughout the city and I think other areas of the city should be concerned about what Shape Places can do to their neighborhood. As someone else pointed out, such a major change should be approved by voters.

Some people think that since 85th and Minn Ave is a major intersection, the city should be allowed to build whatever they want there. My response would be that the homes were there first and the city should take that into consideration when planning future development. If the city had done their planning correctly given what they want developed at that intersection, they wouldn’t have allowed single family homes to be built all the way to 85th St.

Others also say that our neighborhood wants that land to stay rural forever. We expected future growth there…even commercial. We just didn’t expect the city would act irresponsible in placing a major big box retailer adjacent to a residential neighborhood.

Lastly, this isn’t a fight against Walmart. Our neighborhood would have the same issues if this were a Target or another big box retailer. The main issue is the C-4 designation and the traffic given the shared main entrances into a residential neighborhood and big box retailer. If this proposed development was placed just to the south of proposed Hwy 100, then there wouldn’t be much, if any, pushback by residents.

Given the way the city planners have handled this project, it seems to me that they are more concerned with catering to a major business rather than taking care of their resident’s concerns. The city and developer both have said they are listening to public concerns about this project; however, not much has changed in regards to the layout. And with the swiftness this project was moving under Shape Places with limited public input at a certain point, I think other neighborhoods may want to have a final say on whether this ordinance is best for our city. Again, development will happen all over the city, and all citizens should be concerned for their respective areas if other projects move forward as this one has. Once a proposed development is built it cannot be undone (which is concerning given the deeply flawed layout at 85th and Minn Ave).

Given the previous posters, I’m sure I will not get much agreement with this post. I’m not trying to start a fight on here. I just wanted to give you one person’s alternative viewpoint on this project and the impact of Shape Places on the city. Sorry for the long post.

#39 rufusx on 04.21.13 at 11:14 am

Rule by referendum is EXACTLY what has gotten the state of California into ALL of its trouble. LEARN from history.

#40 Justin on 04.21.13 at 11:16 am

I am among the upper middle class in the neighborhood by 85th and Minnesota. It seems to me that I am the only one around me that is not surprised that would be zoned commercial. You would have to be fool to think otherwise. You would also have to be a fool to build your $700,000 house right on 85th street and think there will never be any traffic.

We have had two petitioners come by the house in the last month and I turned them both away. One person was completely dumbfounded that I would not sign. She tried telling me that I should be worried about the children that I don’t have and their safety from the increased traffic on my dead end road that has absolutely no connection to a through street.

The true ignorance of the people in this area mind boggling.

#41 Testor15 on 04.21.13 at 11:40 am

When the application of education and law is tilted toward a society’s privileged, the masses will find a way to reset the rules. There will always be an equalization effect. The California referendums were a part of the post Gov. Reagan backlash he and his policies started.

Ronnie used the Nixonian us against them method to destroy the California experiment in building a greater society. Howard Phillips and his anti tax friends may have abused the system but the we are now seeing how the poor leadership skills of the politicians in charge actually caused the problems.

In general, we Americans have gotten lazy and expected our politician leaders to be all things to all people. When we find out how wrong our leaders are the referendum is one of our ways to attempt to regain control. It is a close as we can get to pure democracy in our country. Like anything else it can be abused but I’d rather take the chance educating the public and having them make the final decision. History is not just a period of 20 or 30 years but the study of timelines, trends and societies over generations.

Consider the course corrections California is putting in place right now to correct the effects of Gov Ron’s mistakes. Other states and leaders will look to these changes for ideas and possibly build on them. The people of CA have now helped Gov Brown because someone was willing to find a solution set to work with.

#42 cr on 04.21.13 at 11:56 am

South Dakota is hardly California……

The initiative process has been a part of our state’s constitution since 1898.

The first time it was used in the municipality of Sioux Falls was in the Drake Springs debate. Currently, it is being used for a second time in the Spellerberg decision.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe this is the first time the referendum process has been used in a municipal election in Sioux Falls. (zoning regulations).

We had two major objectives when we initiated the Drake Springs petition drive:

1. Provide an avenue for all registered voters to make the decision regarding an indoor/outdoor pool at Nelson Park.

2. Get citizens involved! Demonstrate that one person CAN make a difference.

It looks like Sioux Falls citizens ARE getting involved, and I think it is wonderful. The more well-informed, active residents we have, the better our community will become!

#43 GregN on 04.21.13 at 2:14 pm

Speaking as someone who highly respects you and what you’ve done over the years, I’m completely with you on most of what you said.
I’m all for getting citizens involved. I wish more people would turn off the TV and really get informed on city business. I wish I wasn’t one of the few people sitting at city council meetings.
In some cases such as the pools and snow gates, I’m completely with you (and the initiative process). There are times where it is obvious elected city leaders are not listening and in the case of something like snow gates, at the time there was no chance I could see that the council was going to approve them, so there really was no choice but to go the initiative route.
In this PARTICULAR case, the problems I have with the referendum on Shape Places are:
1. Most of the people out gathering signatures and leading the charge on this have no idea what is in the zoning ordinance and haven’t read it. I know I’ve talked to some personally. Maybe a few leading the charge such as the lawyers have read it and understand it, maybe.
2. We are asking all ordinary citizens to vote on a large document that is technical in nature. I’d love it if thousands of citizens actually read the ordinance, spent time asking questions and got to know zoning backwards and forwards. I also live on the planet earth. Ain’t gonna happen.
3. Related to #2, I suspect the vast majority of votes on this ordinance referendum will be based on sound bites, one small snippit of the code someone told them about, or third hand rumor about what the code does.
4. You also cannot make an informed decision about this entire ordinance without reading and comparing it to the current zoning ordinance (of 1983). I already have discussed with people who have never looked at these ordinance before their misunderstanding. Example – someone relates to me that Shape Places tells them what signs they can have in their yard. Um, yes, but the old ordinance didn’t allow ANY. So they think Shape Places is evil because it allows 9 sq ft, but they don’t realize it is IMPROVED over the old. It’s this sort of technical issue very few will actually look at.
5. The anger is about Walmart and this proposal. So we’re referring an ordinance that has really nothing to do with it. Without Shape Places, this would continue. This is no different than last year’s proposal. Its a run of the mill big box development, that followed the procedures (annexation, rezoning). One has virtually nothing to do with the other. The only issue is how Shape Places changes the hearings process. Don’t like that part, fine, amend that part, I’m good with that. But referring the entire ordinance which 95% of it has nothing to do with Walmart or this proposal, silly.
I wish people would get this straight, Shape Places and its adoption is not related to this Walmart proposal – period.

Shape Places was adopted because every 30 years we are required to adopt a new comprehensive plan, and your zoning ordinance must reflect that comprehensive plan. In 1983 we adopted our last comprehensive plan, thus we then adopted a zoning ordinance to match it. Now we adopted a new comprehensive plan for the city (Shape Sioux Falls), and thus we pass a new zoning ordinance to match it. Shape Sioux Falls largely is the same as the old ordinance. There are a lot of changes. There are a lot of improvements. Maybe some things are worse. I think the reduction in conditional use permits is a great debate, and I’m ambivalent. I do wish the Walmart wouldn’t be the first big test of a new procedure.
As was stated previously neighbor concerns are not valid legal reasons to accept or reject a proposal. Neighbors should be heard, I am 110% for that, I sit on a zoning board where we hear passionate neighbors. But their purpose is to present to us actual facts of how a proposal or change in a neighboring property will really impact them. Not simply I don’t like it so you should reject it. That’s illegal on my board, its inappropriate if not illegal in conditional uses/rezoning’s etc.

Anyway, the point is we should be amending the part of the ordinance about having no conditional use permit hearing if that is a problem. Putting this all up for a vote is a dangerous idea.

#44 Testor15 on 04.21.13 at 2:54 pm

Greg, I agree putting the Shape Places up to a citizens vote is potentially a dangerous exercise but what choice do we the people have? If the petition drive is successful and we add it to the 2014 election ballot, expect it to fail. As Dr Farber and the SD Constitutional Revision Commission understood, very complicated changes must be done over a period to allow the public to understand the changes. Putting too much or a too large a change into action with one sweeping move hides too much and scares the voters.

We have a massive amount of public mistrust in Sioux Falls and South Dakota governments currently. City hall and council members are forcing us to accept a major change. After the half truths we have been given combined with system abuses we currently know of, the reaction from the people is a resounding reaction at the polls will be: NO!

I am watching and participating in many of these citizen efforts because the entrenched media, politicians, developers, and other ‘leaders’ need to understand Joe and Jane average citizens own the system as well.

#45 rufusx on 04.21.13 at 3:58 pm

Governor Reagan had NO CHOICE but to accept the outcome of initiated measures and referenda votes in CA. These were governance policies that were set “by the people” and under California’s Constitution – CANNOT be overturned – except “by the people” via the same processes. Direct citizen action is PRECISELY what messed up California.

Testor – you still haven’t pointed out which LAW was violated in any of this. Your claim of the illegal actions of the council stands UNSUPPORTED. This is just a case of “rule by neighbor”. Nothing more. Nothing you despise more – as I recall. Maybe that’s slipped your consciousness in the anti-government fever you seem to be experiencing at the moment.

#46 rufusx on 04.21.13 at 4:10 pm

The city followed the law precisely in writing and adapting Shape Places. They even went above and beyond the legal requirements – substantially so. It’s not their fault “the people” didn’t “decide” to get involved DURING an almost two-year long process. To claim otherwise – to claim this is a law being “shoved down our throats” w/o opportunity for public input is pure stinky distasteful horse crap.

#47 Testor15 on 04.21.13 at 4:30 pm

ruf, Reagan caused many of the actions to take place. His colorful administration laid the groundwork for the voter uprising CA has had to deal with since he left office. The voters were in revolt and there was no civic leadership to guide the people to better solutions.

Very bad ‘leadership’ during the Gov Reagan years is now the foundation of many of the bad US federal economic paths we now must deal with nationally.

In Sioux Falls there were questionable decisions in the Shape Places process. City officials have been making many questionable charter, code and constitutional actions for several years now. Live here and experience them, some of have. The city has been skirting their own charter in making policy and DL recently testified to some of it recently. His personal appearance to remind the council of their duties is only part of this problem solving to be done.

#48 GregN on 04.21.13 at 6:56 pm

To add on to what rufusx is saying, Shape Places has been years (YEARS!) in the making. This started with various study groups on fences, landscaping, parking, etc years ago. Those helped to form the draft ordinance. Multiple drafts were released taking into account public opinion (all are available for download). That ordinance has been out for many months. There were several open houses, public meetings, city council informationals, presentations in various venues, the list goes on and on. The council deferred the second reading on Shape Places because they wanted to work on a few issues they had with the ordinance even though planning was hoping to get it ratified earlier to beat the construction season. There was a rather vigorous public debate about the ordinance at second reading. There was a ton of opportunity for involvement. I’m an ordinary citizen. I literally sat down with Sam Trebilcock and other zoning staff on more than one occasion to discuss my issues with Shape Places. Much of that concern was reflected in the various drafts (we were up to draft 5 by the time of adoption). I am not a power player, I’m just an ordinary citizen who provided input based on how an ordinary residential citizen sees the code. They were not only accommodating, but excited to hear feedback from another perspective because they begged for it, but they couldn’t force people to get involved. It comes down to the fact that zoning is wonky and seems boring. For a certain neighborhood their NIMBY alarm started going off, so suddenly they are interested. I had the same thing in my neighborhood just a handful of weeks back. Most people are busy and don’t really give a hoot about something as boring as setbacks and conditional uses. But when something gets proposed across the street from them that they didn’t expect (like twin homes instead of residential) then they get really interested. Anyway the point is any accusation that this was rammed, jammed, rushed is totally wrong. Its just not true. There were plenty of chances to get involved, and most didn’t. You can now read the ordinance and object to certain parts (or all of it) if you want. That’s fine, just don’t claim you weren’t given the chance.

Back to the Walmart proposal, I think its probably important to get back to this is only a question about whether the site in question is the appropriate place for a large commercial C-4 shopping complex. It sits at the intersection of two arterials, one of which is a state highway, with a future interstate/highway that will be along its southern border. The street that would be used as its access (perhaps) would be an extension of a collector. There is virtually nothing adjacent to it yet. There would be a large buffer of landscaping and smaller ‘out lots’ between the Walmart and the residential at 85th and Audie. The Walmart would be significantly away from the existing residential and buffered. There are 3 houses that are the major issue at 85th and Audie going north on Audie to the first east/west cross street (Golden Eagle). I was just over there a few hours ago visiting friends. I can reiterate, none of this matters to them and others. This is about the fact that a proposed Walmart is threatening to ‘slum up’ their perceived fancy area. That’s all this is. That is not an appropriate reason to deny the development. Now having a serious discussion about reorienting the main access to the Walmart, for example not through 85th/Audie to mitigate traffic concerns, that’s reasonable. We’re getting into very dangerous territory if neighbors literally will be able to vote/demand exactly what retailer can go near them. I’ve asked a few neighbor’s let’s say hypothetically we could get all of the access off Minnesota (which is going to be very difficult to impossible) and say we could make the ‘out lots’ very light commercial, office, and/or we could add buffering. We’ve mitigated your traffic issues and we’re transitioning. Would the Walmart then be OK? The honest answer’s I’ve received – NO. They just don’t want Walmart.

Testor said:
“In Sioux Falls there were questionable decisions in the Shape Places process.”
I guess respectfully I’d ask for a specific example. I’m not trying to be a stooge for the city, but I just don’t know what your talking about.

#49 Testor15 on 04.21.13 at 7:54 pm

What I have been trying to help the commenters understand is the process of adopting this code update. We have experienced many questionable things happening at city hall. These will be discussed in more detail later.

The bad decision in this code update is timing, attitudes and skepticism. All of these could have been dealt with had the 85th St Walmart not been shoved down the throats of the neighborhood. Had the city followed their own rules for zoning currently in force, there probably would not have been the fight.

This is a broader discussion of issues than just Shape Places. There is a major new highway on the drawing boards of many agencies and developers. There are major intersections where it is logical to place regional retail businesses. 85th and Minnesota is one such place. If we are going to encourage a sprawl growth plan with the new major highways needed to move people, the peole who move to these areas must accept what comes with sprawl growth. So you see I understand updating zoning and other rules. I do not like the way officials circumvented rules and procedures once again to shove their results on the average citizen.

#50 rufusx on 04.22.13 at 3:01 pm

Testor, testor, testor. You are starting to sound like a politcian. When asked to substantiate your claims of the city “not follow its own rules” – you fail to do so, nd simply revert to the “talking point” of having things “shoved down our throats” (disproven time and time again) and “circumventing rules” (again – you have never idea single specific instance of this having occurred – why? Because it in fact hasn’t happened).

Just repeating a lie over and over and over- doesn’t make it true. Yes, I’m calling your position here a lie.

#51 rufusx on 04.22.13 at 5:08 pm

The petitioners may “feel like” something is being “shoved down their throat” – but the facts are they simply haven’t taken the opportunity to be engaged.

#52 Testor15 on 04.23.13 at 8:50 am

ruf, ruf, ruf this is neither the time nor the place for all to take place. As with anything done to change the the process, we must release in the proper time and place. Circle arguments on a blog are not the time or place.

#53 Craig on 04.23.13 at 9:20 am

“Had the city followed their own rules for zoning currently in force, there probably would not have been the fight.”

Nonsense. It doesn’t matter that the city followed the rules, or if someone claims they didn’t follow the rules and it doesn’t matter if the area was zoned for commercial already.

The bottom line is people don’t want Walmart in their neighborhood. They believe because they were there first they should get some type of special treatment and therefore they should get to dictate where Walmart goes. They claim they aren’t actually against Walmart itself, which simply means they are ok with putting it in someone else’s backyard, but not in their backyard.

There is no legitimate reason to be against this location for a Walmart other than simply not wanting it there because it might offend one’s eyeballs. Traffic concerns will easily be addressed (you can be certain the state will allow direct access from Minnesota before this is all said and done) and claims about issues with drainage are entirely without merit.

The odd thing is, Soo Sports went in without so much as a peep. Landscape Garden Center has existed out there for decades long before the homes in the area were built, and nobody seemed to care – but now that a “big box” retailer decides they want to build, suddenly we are told that isn’t a good location for commercial or retail property?

Poppycock. The one and only reason these people are out there signing petitions and whining about the location is because they don’t want to see Wally-world from their screened in porches. If it was a strip mall containing a Starbucks and Cherry Berry we wouldn’t be hearing a peep from them. That’s the simple truth whether they admit it or not.

In the end, Walmart will still be built there, so perhaps these people should treat this as a learning experience and realize when you build a home it is best to determine the zoning in the area BEFORE signing the mortgage paperwork. I lived in that area and even I knew full well that 85th and Minn would one day be developed into retail or commercial of some type. That is simply common sense.

#54 ba on 04.23.13 at 10:41 am

Craig, the land in question was recently annexed into the city and is currently zoned agriculture (it will not be zoned commercial until final approval from city council). It hasn’t been zoned commercial all along as your post seems to indicate.

Are you saying that existing land owners don’t have any rights? We are not asking for special treatment…only for the city to follow their zoning laws and allow for adequate transitions (residential > multifamily > commercial).

Soo Sports and Landscape Garden Center are not directly adjacent to the residential streets in question and therefore has no merit on this proposed layout. Also, the traffic generated by these businesses are insignificant compared to a big box retailer.

And lastly, there will be no main access off of Minnesota Ave. The city is talking to the State about getting a limited access point off of Minnesota Ave (right in/out). AS OF YESTERDAY, according to the Planning Dept, a limited access has not yet been approved.

This fight is not about Walmart, but the proximity of a big box retailer to a residential neighborhood. Again, the main and ONLY entrance into the proposed shopping center is at 85th and Audie. Traffic is going to be a big deal…I don’t think it’s as simple as waiving your hand and saying it will be easily addressed.

If Walmart wanted to build south of the proposed Hwy 100 and the city allowed for adequate transitions between a big box retailer and residential neighborhood…then I think there wouldn’t be much pushback, if any.

#55 Craig on 04.23.13 at 2:50 pm

“Craig, the land in question was recently annexed into the city and is currently zoned agriculture (it will not be zoned commercial until final approval from city council). It hasn’t been zoned commercial all along as your post seems to indicate.”

If that is true then my statement is incorrect, but the underlying argument still holds true. Nobody who has built a home in that area in the past two or three decades could possibly be under the assumption that the land would remain a cornfield for the next 100 years. It is a major road, and had they spent more than 30 seconds looking at the intersection of 85th and Minnesota they would have realized it is a major intersection which is not well suited for homes. The logical assumption (especially after Soo Sports was built across the street) is that the land would be retail/commercial.

“Are you saying that existing land owners don’t have any rights? We are not asking for special treatment…only for the city to follow their zoning laws and allow for adequate transitions (residential > multifamily > commercial).”

Land owners should have rights, but not rights that trump or supersede the rights of others. There is no zoning law that mandates transition from multifamily to commercial and we see direct transitions from single family to commercial all over town. Go to the corner of 41st and Marion and you find Lewis backed up against single family homes. Head to the East side Menards and you find single family homes across the street. Sure most of them are mobile homes – but they are still someone’s home are they not? What about the single family homes near almost all of the Ace Hardware locations, or those by the Sycamore Hy-Vee, or behind dozens upon dozens of strip malls all throughout town?

What about the homes built behind and next to Landscape Garden Center – should the city only have allowed apartments in those lots? If so, how many of the same NIMBYs protesting against Walmart would be complaining about a three story apartment complex across the street from them?

“Soo Sports and Landscape Garden Center are not directly adjacent to the residential streets in question and therefore has no merit on this proposed layout. Also, the traffic generated by these businesses are insignificant compared to a big box retailer.”

Actually Landscape Garden Center’s property backs directly up to the “residential streets in question”, and Soo Sports is on the other side of Minnesota. So are you now saying you don’t care about anyone other than those who happen to live within a block of Audie?

I’ll agree neither of those businesses will draw the traffic of a Walmart – but we are talking Minnesota Avenue here! We are talking 85th which has already been graded to easily be transformed into at least a 4 lane road with turning lanes. This has been the master plan for years just as there has been talk about I-29 including an exit on 85th eventually. Everyone who has been paying attention knows the intersection of 85th and Minn will be a major one – and that was even before we factor in SD100. You can’t even find a better location for a big box retailer or a major development of retail. That doesn’t mean people have to like it, but when you build in an area that is conveniently close to major streets, you need to accept what comes along with those major streets.

“And lastly, there will be no main access off of Minnesota Ave. The city is talking to the State about getting a limited access point off of Minnesota Ave (right in/out). AS OF YESTERDAY, according to the Planning Dept, a limited access has not yet been approved.”

How can you say there will be no access and then immediately say it hasn’t been approved yet? Of course it won’t be approved yet – there is a lot of work to be done before they get that far, but in the end it will happen. Walmart will be a busy store and eventually will probably warrant the addition of a signaled intersection. It may not happen overnight, but it will happen. If you think Walmart is going to build a major SuperCenter only to have one access point you are fooling yourself. One of their major complaints with the Louise location is a lack of access for their trucks… they won’t be making the same mistake twice on a new store. You can be assured they will have no fewer than three access points when it is all said and done.

“This fight is not about Walmart, but the proximity of a big box retailer to a residential neighborhood. Again, the main and ONLY entrance into the proposed shopping center is at 85th and Audie. Traffic is going to be a big deal…I don’t think it’s as simple as waiving your hand and saying it will be easily addressed.”

You might have noticed that Walmart isn’t exactly new at this. They know what they are doing – and they know they have enough traffic to require more than one small entrance into their stores. Either way, yes the traffic will increase, but that’s progress. Again – you build near a major arterial road like Minnesota Avenue, you need to accept the development that stems from it. In time, that entire area will be a smattering of strip malls and retail stores – and although that will ultimately upset the dozen or so homes that have decks and porches facing Walmart, eventually it won’t really matter to the rest of the people living a block or two away because they will learn to appreciate being able to run over to Wallyworld to pick up a gallon of milk.

“If Walmart wanted to build south of the proposed Hwy 100 and the city allowed for adequate transitions between a big box retailer and residential neighborhood…then I think there wouldn’t be much pushback, if any.”

Well there wouldn’t be pushback from the NIMBYs in that one neighborhood I’ll grant you that, but Walmart doesn’t want to build a mile further South where Minnesota Ave is nothing but a two lane road, and where their convenience factor is greatly diminished. That would allow smaller retailers to open closer to where people actually live, and that would bleed sales off of Walmart. Logistically speaking, there is no reason to be further South, because that isn’t where the growth and development will occur in the next decade. They aren’t building in an area that will be a growth area in 2025… they are building in an area that is a growth area in 2015.

Let’s be honest here – I know nobody wants to admit it, but the truth of the matter is if you surveyed 100 people in that neighborhood about Walmart, you would probably find at least 90% of them have shopped at a Walmart in the last 60 days, and at least 90% of them will shop at a Walmart sometime in the next 60 days.

These people aren’t against Walmart – they are just against Walmart in their neighborhood. I get it – I really do, but caveat emptor…. I just don’t have sympathy for those who haven’t done their homework.

So let’s pretend for a second that Walmart decides to move one block further South. Then the city puts multi-family subsidized housing on 85th to act as a buffer between Walmart and 85th. The state and city work together to provide the primary entrances on Minnesota and on a yet to be developed street to the South. Do you think the people who have homes in Twin Eagle would be happier? Doubtful – because if they are honest they don’t even want multi-family. They want a park, or they want more $350,000+ homes, or they want a very quaint and architecturally pleasing strip mall with a drive-thru coffee shop. They don’t want multi-family and they don’t want big commercial retailers – and really who can blame them because most of us don’t want that either. I get it… but that is why we need to be diligent BEFORE we purchase our property. When you are making assumptions about future development, or when you are the first people to build in an area which is still under development you are gambling, and in this case the gamble backfired.

Any way you slice it, it still boils down to simple NIMBYism, and it is hard to make a compelling argument when that is your foundation.

#56 Scott on 04.23.13 at 3:51 pm

90% of the people have shopped in Wal-Mart in the last 60 days? God, I hope that’s true. I walk into one maybe once every two years, and I feel dirty every time. Of course, I don’t fit into the target market of Ron White and Dale Earnhardt t-shirts.

#57 Scott on 04.23.13 at 3:51 pm

90% of the people have shopped in Wal-Mart in the last 60 days? God, I hope that’s not true. I walk into one maybe once every two years, and I feel dirty every time. Of course, I don’t fit into the target market of Ron White and Dale Earnhardt t-shirts.

#58 Craig on 04.23.13 at 5:02 pm

Scott – I’m the same way… I probably set foot inside of Wallyworld about once or maybe twice a year, and most often that is because I’m with someone else who wants to go there. I’m more than happy to pay a bit more just to not have to deal with the stereotypical Walmart shopper. I know it isn’t fair to stereotype, but man oh man do Walmart stereotypes ring true.

Oddly enough I read an article a while back about the “typical Walmart shopper”, and there was a HUGE amount of upper income people who were regular Walmart shoppers. I found it amazing… and sad. Yet this is why I’m so confident those people protesting so loudly against Walmart are the very same people who will be shopping there on a regular basis.

I really don’t know if prices at Target or ShopKo are significantly different, but what I do know is the other shoppers are – and I’m willing to pay a few extra cents to NOT have to see another 450lb woman in a power scooter or a package of ground beef sitting in a bin of bargain DVDs just because Jethro decided he didn’t have enough cash for 3lbs of beef AND a copy of Roadhouse.

#59 rufusx on 04.23.13 at 11:29 pm

ba – the ;land was designated ror4 commercial development via the Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan is required BY STATE LAW and is the basis for development of cities (into un-annexed land) in the state of SD – in 20-year increments. Zoning ordinances are required to support and facilitate the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan.

As to the “property rights” issue; the US Constitution guarantees one the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure of ones OWN property. PERIOD. That is IT. There is no other form of “property right” in this country. NONE.

You have NO OTHER “property rights” (such as the freedom to build whatever you want in whatever manner you want, plant whatever vegetation you choose, house whatever animal you choose, conduct whatever business at whatever location you choose – etc.. This “rights” don’t really exist – as legal rights. They are a fantasy, IMO growing out of a sense of being free from one’s parental control when one moves out of one’s parents’ home.

Your ACTUAL “property rights” (limited to freedom from unreasonable search or seizure) END where your property line ends. Neither they nor any of the imaginary rights extend to your neighbor’s property.

#60 Scott on 04.24.13 at 11:11 am

It’s always been a myth that Wal-Mart is “cheaper” than elsewhere. Yes, there’s some loss leader crap that is priced at next to nothing, but overall the prices for the same item are identical at Target, Shopko, etc.

Of course, they create the myth by also having cheap knock-offs of the same items. Like you’ll find the same Sony blu-ray player at both stores for $99, but Wal-Mart will also have in stock a no-name, no-frills blu-ray at $49. And I can almost guarantee that cheap one will break down in weeks.

#61 ba on 04.24.13 at 4:15 pm

rufusx – please show me in the 2035 comprehensive plan where that land was specifically designated for C-4. I would love to see it!

Looking at it from a different angle, the city determined this land to be Tier 3 property, and thus shouldn’t be annexed for at least 15 years since city services/utilities were not readily available.

By property rights, I was talking about zoning…not the U.S. Constitution. Sorry, I should have been clear on that. I would think you would agree that we have property rights when it comes to zoning? Especially existing land owners. Now, I wouldn’t say that we get to pick and choose what is built around us…all I’m asking for is to stay involved and ask the city to provide proper buffering betwen residential and major retail. Shape Places took away public input. And in my opinion, the city is playing fast and loose with proper buffering. Walmart’s designs for that property, along with the city’s recommendation of said design, is a farce.

Craig – We expected retail to be built there…not just a big box retailer with a shared entrance to a residential neighborhood.

All of the major businesses you cite that are adjacent to residential back up to each other. There isn’t a shared intersection. And most of them have an adequate land buffer between them. This project, in my opinion, is quite different with the shared main entrances.

Soo Sports is far away from any residential areas, while Landscape Garden Center was already there before the neighborhood. Plus, there is a natural land buffer between Landscape and residences. Also the land between the two has been adequately zoned to allow for buffers (twin homes > multi-family > commercial). The city does have ordinances that stipulate what can be built next to adjacent land uses.

Regarding access points for the proposed shopping center. I said the MAIN access point is Audie and 85th and they would like limited access on Minn Ave. We met with city officials on Monday, and a limited access point (right in/out) still hasn’t been approved by the State (again, Minn Ave is a state highway, in which access points need their approval). There will never be a main access point on Minn Ave regarding this shopping center. The State doesn’t want to have 3 stoplights within a quarter mile of each other (85th & Minn, Hwy 100 and Minn Ave, and Walmart in between).

As I said earlier, if Walmart built just on the south side of the proposed Hwy 100 then there wouldn’t be any issues (the current proposed layout backs up to Hwy 100). I’m not talking about moving them 1 mile south. And you incorrect about Minn Ave…it’s already been announced that it will be a 4 lane road all the way to Harrisburg.

Everyone says that this is a major intersection and the city should be allowed to build whatever they want there. But I would say Minn Ave & 69th, Minn Ave & 57th, 85th & Western, 69th & Western, 85th & Louise, 69th & Louise are also major intersections…but I don’t see any of them have a 40 acre shopping center there.

Lastly, believe me if you want to, but this isn’t about Walmart. It’s about a C-4 zoning next to a residential neighborhood. Even if Walmart pulls out of this area, our neighborhood would still put up a fight if Target wanted to move there!

#62 rufusx on 04.25.13 at 1:37 am

ba – YOUR property rights (as defined by the zoning district YOUR property is in) still end at YOUR property line. You don’t have the right to determine what your neighbor does with his/her property. That is controlled by the zoning district their property is in.

Were you engaged at all in the entire two year process of developing “Shape”? Attend any meetings? Provide any feedback/input during the process? Or are you like 99.8% of the populace and just don’t give a hoot until it becomes a NIMBYism opportunity?

See testor? This IS all about “neighbors’ rules”.

#63 ba on 04.25.13 at 1:19 pm

rufusx – I stated explicitly that adjacent neighbors shouldn’t be able to pick and choose what goes in around them. And when it comes to zoning rights, I think we are saying the same thing…maybe my follow up wasn’t clear either. I will try again:

Zoning laws will typically depict what can be built next to existing land uses. Therefore, if you are first to an area, then that impacts what can be built around you. If you move to an area that already has some sort of existing land use and then you complain about that land use…then you are SOL in my view. But if you are first to an area, then future adjacent land uses should take your land use into account. The city allowed residences to be built all the way to 85th St…they now have to follow proper transitions to allow a C-4 retail center.

And does it really matter when I got involved regarding Shape Places? A TON of people, from all different areas of town, asked the City Council for a delay of a few weeks to allow more public review of the ordinance. They didn’t listen.

To me, there are serious flaws in the ordinance…starting with only the Planning Commission reviewing a “preliminary plan” for a proposed development. The city council doesn’t even touch it! And Jeff Schmitt said that public input is cut-off once the preliminary plan is approved.

In my opinion, Shape Places seems to be written by developers. It’s like having the fox watch the hen house.

Sure, the law could be amended for some of the flaws, but you cannot undo what was approved between when the law was orginally implemented and finally amended.

#64 OleSlewFoot on 04.25.13 at 1:44 pm

Craig, the east side of Audie for the first block north from 85th is zoned LW so they are going to get their apartments/office mix you mentioned even closer than across 85th where the C-4 is going in. Maybe that is another reason they are fighting this.

#65 Craig on 04.25.13 at 4:12 pm

Hold on to your seats because you are in for a ride. Should have added chapter numbers to this bad boy:

“Craig – We expected retail to be built there…not just a big box retailer with a shared entrance to a residential neighborhood.”

Fair enough – but it seems to me you should be blaming Stencil Development or the builder/Realtor who sold you homes before explaining what could potentially happen across the street.

I’m just having a hard time being sympathetic to someone who buys a home which is on the corner of 85th and Audie and who doesn’t take five minutes to ask themselves… “hey – I wonder what might be built across this major four lane road from me which just so happens to connect to a major highway just North of a new state bypass highway which will be built sometime in the next decade or so”.

Then again… someone who buys a McMansion from Paul Fick is probably a bit naive to the world around them.

“All of the major businesses you cite that are adjacent to residential back up to each other. There isn’t a shared intersection. And most of them have an adequate land buffer between them. This project, in my opinion, is quite different with the shared main entrances.”

I guess I fail to see a significant difference. If a new big box store is built, it will increase traffic in the area either way – and for most of the residential areas around these new stores they end up having to share access points eventually. So if you had a home next to the expanded Hy-Vee on Sycamore, chances are you will have to deal with a bit more traffic. If you live along Marion road, you are now dealing with a widened street that took up much of your front road, and much of the traffic on that street is due to the new Hy-Vee on the corner and the Lowes next door. When the new Ford store goes in between – there will be even more traffic and their access onto Marion will be shared with all of the traffic.

I just don’t see this Walmart situation as all that unique. What I see as being unique, is that that Stencil designed Twin Eagle to include single family on the perimeter with no buffer other than a collecting pond, and with no consideration as to what would eventually be on the other side of 85th. I don’t feel it is fair to limit development on that corner merely because the developer didn’t plan ahead or because homeowners didn’t think ahead.

“Soo Sports is far away from any residential areas, while Landscape Garden Center was already there before the neighborhood. Plus, there is a natural land buffer between Landscape and residences.”

Soo Sports is essentially right across the street from where they want to put Walmart. Is that really “far away”? Maybe people just don’t care because they can’t really see it from their front lawns, but it is still commercial property.

Landscape Garden Centers is probably a fantastic neighbor because the vast majority of their property is full of trees. Who wouldn’t love that? But keep in mind the property is still zoned commercial – who says they won’t decide to relocate in a few years when they realize the land is worth far more to a future big box store. Next thing you know you have a Home Depot and a Sam’s Club right there and you’re staring at their loading docks and cardboard bales. Not much you could do about it either… after all – they were there first right?

“The city does have ordinances that stipulate what can be built next to adjacent land uses.”

They do, but there are a lot of quirks to those rules. It doesn’t always mandate that there needs to be multi-family as a buffer between commercial and residential. There are exceptions all the time – and often you see residential on one side of a street with commercial on the opposite side. It happens – it is allowed, and if there were rules against it then it would see there is no reason to collect signatures to change the rules is there?

“Regarding access points for the proposed shopping center. I said the MAIN access point is Audie and 85th and they would like limited access on Minn Ave. We met with city officials on Monday, and a limited access point (right in/out) still hasn’t been approved by the State (again, Minn Ave is a state highway, in which access points need their approval). There will never be a main access point on Minn Ave regarding this shopping center. The State doesn’t want to have 3 stoplights within a quarter mile of each other (85th & Minn, Hwy 100 and Minn Ave, and Walmart in between).”

Again – it is too early to say what will “never” happen. Minnesota Ave is a “highway” by name only, and for most of it, we know it as a major street. Count the number of lighted intersections near 26th and 33rd and 41st etc – it isn’t hard to imagine having one on 85th, Walmart (and whatever street joins on the East side of Minnesota), and Hwy 100.

“As I said earlier, if Walmart built just on the south side of the proposed Hwy 100 then there wouldn’t be any issues (the current proposed layout backs up to Hwy 100).”

Well of course there wouldn’t be any issues – because you wouldn’t have to see Walmart anymore. It would be far enough away that it wouldn’t be your problem anymore, and therefore since it isn’t in your back yard, you wouldn’t care.

Thing is – that isn’t what Walmart wants. They don’t want to build where people will live in 10 years. They want to be in the current growth area where they will eventually pull shoppers from all around them. It makes no sense for them to move farther South as it would cut into their market and would potentially allow someone else to come in farther North which could eat into their market potential. Imagine a Lewis store next to Soo Sports cutting into their market.

I’m no fan of Walmart, but I will admit they are smart. They know the market better than any of us, and there is a very good reason they chose that location rather than one which is half a mile away.

“And you incorrect about Minn Ave…it’s already been announced that it will be a 4 lane road all the way to Harrisburg.”

Well sure it will – but it won’t happen this year, and Walmart isn’t about to wait around for infrastructure to be enhanced. Again – they go where the growth is… not where it will be in 2015 or 2020.

“Everyone says that this is a major intersection and the city should be allowed to build whatever they want there. But I would say Minn Ave & 69th, Minn Ave & 57th, 85th & Western, 69th & Western, 85th & Louise, 69th & Louise are also major intersections…but I don’t see any of them have a 40 acre shopping center there.”

Minn Ave & 69th: Not enough available land – and frankly it is a bit too close to 41st (Lewis – HyVee). Residential property directly to the North with commercial directly to the South SHARING an access road. Commercial on both of the other corners.

Minn Ave & 57th: Again lack of available land. When those developments were originally started 57th wasn’t expected to explode like it did – and some of the homes existed long before massive growth to the South. Rest assured however – eventually that funeral home will end up being a Gas Stop.

85th & Western: A lot of swamp land and elevation changes – and Western turns into gravel just to the South. There isn’t nearly as much future growth potential there, but most likely at least two of those corners will be commercial eventually. Maybe not a 40 acre store, but you may see an Ace Hardware and/or a few strip malls.

69th & Western: All four corners are already commercial development. Not well suited for a big box store though – not enough room, and too close to 41st.

85th & Louise: There will be smaller commercial on all four corners – there is potential to have a larger development on the Southeast corner if they can convince farmer Joe to sell off his land – but he’s a smart dude and is holding out for the right price. Give it time… it may happen.

69th & Louise: They have a Lewis store already. Maybe not the same scale as Wallyworld, but still a major retailer, and if they didn’t already snap up the land, you may have seen another large retailer there. Doubtful however – a bit too close to the shopping mecca that is 41st and Louise. The Southeast corner is already owned by Avera and will likely be a medical center one day. The other two corners are commercial and the Northeast corner will be a Gas Stop. A major car dealership is just to the North of that. The Northwest corner will likely be a strip mall.

“Lastly, believe me if you want to, but this isn’t about Walmart. It’s about a C-4 zoning next to a residential neighborhood. Even if Walmart pulls out of this area, our neighborhood would still put up a fight if Target wanted to move there!”

I believe that – but the problem is you are being incredibly selfish. You don’t want to look at Walmart, you don’t want to deal with traffic – I get that, but those are issues you should have thought about before building in the area.

There are a few solutions however. What if Walmart moves a few hundred yards further South, and in between your homes and Wallyworld, there is a buffer of apartments. That meets your separation concerns… but it would only make traffic on 85th and Audie that much worse. I don’t think you’d go for this one though… because I really don’t think you care about the buffer issues.

Solution number two – you speak to the city about closing off Audie so it doesn’t connect to 85th. Traffic concerns averted – you can now exit via Grange where a signal light will be installed, via Heatheridge, or via 77th. Probably less than ideal since it limits options, but it would prevent those pesky Walmart shoppers from using your neighborhood as a pass-through to their apartments and starter homes. Oh the horror.

Come on now – let’s be honest… most of the homes in the area won’t really be impacted by Walmart. There are only a handful near 85th and Audie that would bear the brunt of the traffic issues and that would have to see Walmart… and those people should have thought ahead. The wetlands along 85th are considered a buffer for those on Golden Eagle, so those people don’t really even have a legitimate gripe.

Then you think about what will go on the East side of Audie, and you really start to wonder what those few homeowners were thinking when they opted to build on the West side. Did they really expect the area to be surrounded by other $350,000 homes? I just don’t get it… since when is a lack of homework justification to halt development and progress?

@OleSlewFoot – exactly – I suspect most of these people don’t really want apartments any more than they want commercial. What they want is higher end twin-homes or a higher end condo/townhome development. They do not want multi-story apartment complexes or anything else which might be harmful on their eyes.

I wouldn’t want it either… which is why I didn’t buy one of the houses that faced Audie or backed up to 85th. I’m apparently one of the rare types that actually did my homework BEFORE signing on the dotted line.