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Wal-Mart Gets OK to Build Store Further Away From Roadways in West Louisville

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The development of a Wal-Mart at Broadway and 18th Street will move forward following the Louisville Metro Board of Zoning Adjustment's unanimous decision Monday to approved two variances.

The variances allow the nearly 155,000 square foot "superstore" to be constructed further away from the roadway than the Land Development Code allows.

The maximum setback allowed by the Land Development Code is 25 feet on both Broadway and 18th Street (which is formally Dixie Highway), where the building is set to be built. The variances will allow the store to be 394 feet away from Broadway and 179 feet away from 18th.

A Wal-Mart representative at the meeting said the variances  allow for parking and access for supply trucks. If the variances were not approved, the retailer would have ended the nearly $25 million deal, the representative said.

Opponents and supporters of the development have clashed since the project was announced last year.

Supporters, such as Karen King, 50, said the city should support the development and allow the variances. The store is expected to bring nearly 300 jobs to the area.

"The Wal-Mart, to me, it has a job for every level," she said. "Every child from 16 on up can work in this store and still go to school and they have a real, solid, continuous job."

But others, such as Steve Porter, an attorney representing a group of residents opposed to the plan, said the Land Development Code should be upheld regardless of potential economic development.

"I think the final conclusion was that economics outweighed the Land Development Code, and I'm concerned that will set a precedent for future decisions on future cases," he said.

"It's very important to uphold the Land Development Code. In this case the big guy doesn't have to, in most cases the little guy has to, that's a major difference here."

Some stipulations to the approved waivers include Wal-Mart developers working with TARC officials to determine where bus stops will be located and working to establish a clear barrier along the Broadway perimeter that will direct pedestrian traffic to a specified walkway.

Also, developers are required to move forward with a landscape plan that includes no fewer than 165 trees.

Wal-Mart developers will now present a construction plan to the city's office of construction review, said Jessica Wethington, spokeswoman for Develop Louisville.

If approved, a construction permit will be issued and the developers will begin constructing the store.

In a statement, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said he is "thankful the last major hurdle is completed."

"I look forward to joining Wal-Mart leaders on breaking ground and getting construction underway," he said.

A date to begin construction has not yet been set.

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.