Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Local News

March 28, 2012

Controversy surrounds future Walmart road

March 28, 2012 —     The City of Grayson voted to dedicate a tract of land in a special meeting on Thursday night that may open the doors for a new Walmart Super Center. The decision is not without controversy.

    The land, which is part of the old Farmer’s Hardware parking lot, connects Carol Malone Blvd to Rupert Lane. Although it has been used by many as a shortcut to homes on Rupert, the land was never officially a city street.

    The first reading of the ordinance was accepted in a 4-2 vote, with Pearl Crum and Wayne Suttles voting against.

    “I have a concern,” Suttles told the council. “I think it is inappropriate to take property away from someone without compensating them.”

    Bill Woods, manager of Fourth Leaf, LLC said in the meeting that his company just spent $130,000 to fix the property in question. He asked the council to vote against the ordinance.

    “We have spent a lot of our own time and money to fix the problems with this road,” Woods said. “We don’t want this to happen, but if it is to happen anyway, we expect to be compensated.”

    Under imminent domain, the city would have to pay the property owner fair market value for the street. At this time, there is no plan to compensate Woods or his company.

    Attorney Will Wilhoit spoke in favor of the ordinance. He told the council that, as attorney for Johnson and Goebel, he could announce the group is in negotiations with a development firm for Walmart to build a store on the former Charlie Horton Farm. In order to build the store there, however, a new light would have to be put in on Carol Malone Blvd. and the intersection of the yet-to-be-named street.

    “This means 300 to 400 new jobs for our area, which translates to over $100,000 in payroll tax alone,” Wilhoit says. “This is not a question of whether or not Walmart is coming, just whether the city will benefit or not.”

    Wilhoit said without the dedication of the roadway, there could be no light, and Walmart would be forced to build outside the city limits.

    “Floods and fires are not the only way to dry up a town,” Grayson Mayor George Steele told the council. “We have to open the doors of our city to new jobs. We will not cater to special interest groups at the expense of the community.”

    Ed Woods who currently owns the old Farmers Hardware, said he supports free enterprise. If Walmart does come to Grayson, it would be in direct competition with Woods’ grocery store, Foodfair.

    “It isn’t free enterprise when you take away someone’s property and just give it to the competition,” Woods said.

    The second reading of the ordinance was slated for Tuesday evening (after press time.)

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