There will be no Walmart on North Hill at a site just off 21st Avenue Northwest after the city council rejected the plan by a 7-6 vote Monday night.
The project had passed on first reading by a vote of 8-5, but failed to get the necessary eight votes on Monday. Council members listened to objections from the store's potential neighbors, who cited traffic concerns, safety issues and simply not wanting to live near a large retail store in opposing the project. The group said it opposes any business that would bring large increases in traffic to its neighborhood, and an attorney representing the group said smaller retail developments like banks or restaurants would be better suited for the property. But we wonder what kind of project the residents and the council would support at that location?
If you side with the neighborhood residents, and that's a big "if" for some people, then where should such a big retail store be built? It's easy to say put it somewhere else, or put it in a location away from residential areas. But the reality is that finding a suitable location that makes everyone involved happy will be difficult, considering the amount of space and access necessary for such a project, not to mention that Walmart or any other business certainly doesn't want to build in the middle of nowhere and then hope to attract customers.
We also wonder about some of the questions posed by members of the council, including questions about whether Walmart could adequately staff another store. Should that be the council's concern? Couldn't the same question be asked of any company planning to build in Minot? Did the council ask those questions when countless hotels were constructed? Did the council ask the same questions of new restaurants in Minot?
North Hill residents have clamored for new businesses and growth in northwest Minot for years, and while we agree that city leaders should be doing their best to manage growth responsibly, the definition of the term responsibly depends on who you ask.