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New Kid's View

Family lured Jerrianne and her husband to South Milwaukee in 2002 from Southern California where she worked as, first, a journalist, then, as a court information officer. She now stays busy with media-relations consulting, playing with her three grandchildren (part of the lure), writing, discovering her new environs, and hoping her garden will produce before the first fall frost.

The Deal is Done

Common Council, Walmart, Erik Brooks, Craig Maass, Frank Van Dusen III, Lisa Pieper

The South Milwaukee Common Council put the final touches on its approval tonight for a Walmart store to be built at 222. North Chicago Ave., although some of the 200 or so residents who attended tonight's Council meeting thought it was a done deal long before this. Way before Alderman Brooks voted no in September on an aspect of the process because he opposed the less-than-transparent way the Council was proceeding.

Brooks, however, voted tonight with the 6-2 majority (First District Aldermen Craig Maass and Frank Van Dusen III opposing) that gives Walmart the green light without being bothered by the vagaries or uncertainties that accompany a conditional-use permit, which is the only way Walmart could have proceeded without the Council's approval of the three Walmart-related items on tonight's agenda. Those measures changed the zoning of the Walmart site to commercial use, joined what were two parcels of property into one, and vacated 11th Avenue which bisects the now-single parcel and goes through the middle of the Walmart site.

To say that the majority of the very boistrous residents at the meeting were angry, disgusted and disappointed is indeed an understatement.

Even some of the six members of the Council approving the measures clashed with the two dissenting members.

The Council allowed about 15 South Milwaukeeans and a Cudahy resident to speak, even though the meeting wasn't a public hearing.

Although the Council didn't give the impression that they were trying to dodge questions, the 'discussion' did raise a few in my mind.

One was prompted by the assertion that the $1.8 million the city is putting up in this project would not result in any tax increase. If so, then where is that money coming from? Or rather, what is going to get cut? Another fire department position? Reduction in the police force? Less snow removal?

Another 'reassurance' was that no extended RV or vehicles-for-sale parking would be allowed in the Walmart lot. That raise two questions. (1) How would anyone know, given that the store is to be open 24 hours a day? And (2) Since it's private, not city-owned property, who's going to enforce it?

Then there was the revelation that Alderwoman Lisa Pieper apparently misinformed a resident in a phone call this afternoon about the status of the project and the purpose of tonight's votes. Other city officials had to explain the process to Pieper in the midst of the meeting. That made me wonder how it happened that she didn't understand it, yet there she was voting on it.

Those who want a Walmart here tout the jobs and revenue it will bring to the city. Those opposed say any job creation would be a wash because of the negative effect the store will have on other businesses and say they doubt the city will ever realize much, if any, revenue.

To me, though, the most distressing aspect of this entire situation is the animosity and divisiveness it has created in the city. Guess that shouldn't be surprising, though . That is part of Walmart's sorry legacy.

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