Yuma Voters Approve Walmart Neighborhood Market Plan

Eleven Western Builders has been awarded the construction of this project.

Yuma voters appear to have given the plan to build a Walmart Neighborhood Market on the city’s north side a resounding approval in Tuesday’s special election, with both ballot questions approved by more than 77 percent according to unofficial results.

“Sounds like pretty much a home run,” said Ken Rosevear, chairman of a Walmart-funded political action committee formed to support passage of the questions.

He added, “I think people will be very, very surprised by the results of the neighborhood market, they’re going to be really happy with what happens.

Teresa Poland, who led the petition drive which led to the special election, said she’s still concerned about the future of nearby businesses, but “it’s all we wanted, to give voters a chance to have a say-so. And now they have.”

Preliminary results Tuesday night reported by the city showed 5,254 voters approved Proposition 405, allowing the commercial zoning for the property approved by the City Council last June to stay in place, versus 1,534 voters who were against it. Proposition 406 concerned a general plan change for the same property, and was approved by 5,165 voters versus 1,498.

The tally includes all mailed early ballots and the votes cast in person at Tuesday’s three voting locations, while the Yuma County Recorder’s Office still needs to count 26 provisional ballots and 489 early ballots which were returned to the polling station Tuesday, the city said.

That process should be completed on Thursday, and the final numbers will become official once they’re canvassed by the City Council, expected to happen at its March 18 meeting.

The vote lets the “limited commerical/aethetic overlay” zoning stand on 8 acres at 2545 W. 8th St., as well as a general plan classification of mixed use. Those measures clear the way for the chain store to be built at the site.

No Walmart on 8th Street, a political action committee, turned in about 1,500 signatures last August, above the 759 required to force a vote.

The PAC opposing the store was formed by Poland, then the owner of Val’s Liquor across the street from the site and whose family owns the Friendly Acres RV Park just west of the Walmart site. Poland and her husband Val sold the liquor store in October.

The City Council approved the plan over the objections of some residents and business owners along Eighth Street, concerned about additional traffic and the fate of other stores in the area, particularly locally owned “mom-and-pops.”

“I hope it all works out. I did all I could do,” Poland said.

Rosevear said, “I don’t think there’s a competitive issue anyway, but it’s just one more choice and one more venue for people.” Corporate grocery stores within a two-mile radius include a Food City and a Walmart Supercenter.

According to the company, Walmart Neighborhood Market is a chain of grocery stores launched in 1998. They are smaller than traditional Walmart outlets and designed to offer shoppers easier access, less crowded aisles, and quicker checkout times than the several super centers already located throughout Yuma County.

The 41,000-square-foot store will include a pharmacy and sell fresh produce, groceries, health and beauty aids, cleaning supplies and more.

The property voted on surrounds a Circle K on the southwest corner of Eighth Street and Avenue B. It had been zoned for an apartment complex project which fell through before landowner B-8 Yuma LLC applied for the change to commercial zoning, to allow construction of the Walmart market.

Rosevear, former executive director of the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce, said the store is expected to create 100 construction jobs and 95 permanent jobs, and allow redevelopment of a blighted property which could extend east and west along Eighth Street.

Turnout was reportedly light at most polling places, with most people mailing their ballots in. The total number of registered voters in the city is 35,049.

Rosevear said he’s grateful to the voters who did participate. “I know it’s not a major election, but it’s still kind of important,” he said.

Originally posted: Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at Yuma Sun
By Blake Herzog