A final decision on the proposed Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market that has caused unrest among the residents of Live Oak Trace subdivision and their homeowners association is expected Aug. 25 by the Zachary City Council.
The retailer hopes to put a 40,000-square-foot grocery on the lot near the entrance to Live Oak Trace and near a LeBlanc’s Food Stores, a factor that’s an issue for some residents.
In March, a five-hour Planning and Zoning Committee meeting ended with a rezoning request for the property being withdrawn by the retailer’s attorneys.
However, in April, a request for a resubdivision of the vacant land into four lots was approved by the City Council.
In May and again in June, rezoning requests were pulled by attorneys from the Planning and Zoning agenda prior to each meeting.
On July 6, a request for a rezone of two of the lots from residential estates to commercial general was denied again.
However, two of the lots have been given a favorable recommendation by the committee to be rezoned from residential estates to commercial suburban, which is in line with the city’s Master Plan.
The rezoning requests and the project’s site plan are scheduled to go before the City Council on Aug. 25.
Four “yes” votes by council members are required to overturn Planning and Zoning’s request for denial.
Wal-Mart attorney James Percy, of Jones Walker in Baton Rouge, spoke to a group of business leaders July 23 about the project.
“You’ve all heard plenty about this, but I’m here to say I have tremendous respect for anyone who wishes to voice their opinions on what they feel strongly about, and some people are really emotional about this,” Percy said, “but we will not criticize anyone who criticizes us. It’s not the way to do business.”
Wal-Mart, he said, believes Zachary is a dynamic and promising community and that residents will use the grocery store being proposed.
Issues voiced by residents at previous Planning and Zoning meetings have ranged from the store being open 24 hours to traffic to its proposed location at the entrance to the subdivision, to being located on the same street as LeBlanc’s Food Stores, which has nine locations in Louisiana.
The retailer and the attorneys understand the delicate issue of Church Street but believe that both LeBlanc’s and a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market can survive there.
“We’re not siphoning off the other store, as some have said. We’ll be generating our own revenue for this community. We know the greatest issue is about who we are,” Percy said. “Planning and Zoning discussions should not be about who but about what is allowed on that tract of land.”