Planner: Wal-Mart might improve traffic in south Lincoln, residents not impressed

People whose homes back into Grainger Parkway show discontent for a Wal-Mart Super Center.

Story and photo by Zach Revense, NewsNetNebraska

It doesn’t matter if the proposed Wal-Mart draws less traffic, locals don’t want the big-box store in their neighborhood.

South Lincoln residents have been up in arms about Ridge Development’s bid for a Super Center Wal-Mart off 27th Street and Grainger Parkway. Heavy traffic has been one of the core arguments against a proposed Walmart, but Lincoln’s city planning office expects fewer vehicles will drive there with the current layout.

The last Lincoln City traffic count showed 16, 850 trips on South 27th Street between Pine Lake Road and Yankee Hill Road in a 24-hour period. A Super Center would generate about 6,000 trips daily.

Proposed Wal-Mart location.

“This lot zoned for the Wal-Mart doesn’t allow additional restaurants in the east part of the parking lot,” said city planner Steve Henrichsen. “It would be the only retailer on this plot.”

Often zoning will allow space near roadways where shorter stores like Ashley Lynn’s Tanning salon or a Wendy’s can be built. These layouts tend to pull in more cars to one area. If plans go through, Wal-Mart will be the sole establishment doing business.

The Super-“ness” of this Wal-Mart center has also been a concern, but Henrichsen said that this would be the smallest one in town by about a third at 133,000 square feet.

Homeowner’s Association president Mathew Ellison said that it doesn’t matter how big the store is or how it lessens the traffic; for him, it is principle.

“We don’t want a commercial store like Wal-Mart in our neighborhood,” Ellison said.

Ellison isn’t the only one who feels this way. At a community meeting held May 29, about 300 people came to show they don’t support this decision.

Henrichsen said that he has received emails by frustrated citizens asking why they weren’t informed a big box store could be moving in. He said that each step has been a gradual and evolving one since 2001.

“I don’t believe the original plan was to bring in a Wal-Mart,” Henrichsen said, “but there has always been enough square footage available for a store this size.”

In addition, Henrichsen said that Ridge Development hasn’t broken any laws and is completely within its rights to go through with the bid.

Ridge Development hasn’t said when or if it will go through with the project and wouldn’t comment for this article.