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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Linda Runbeck (R)

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Some local neighborhoods getting the cold shoulder

Thursday, February 06, 2014

To the editor:

 

By all appearances, the city of Blaine is giving cold-shoulder treatment to residents in its neighborhoods south of Interstate 35-W.  What’s it doing? The city council plans to vote on Feb. 13 to relocate a WalMart to vacant land bordered by 2,000 residents who’ve tried to the get the attention of the city council, but with little success.

 

The residents cite say numerous problems will devalue their homes: quadrupling of traffic (from 3,000 cars per day to 14,000) and a flawed roadway design; a round-about at the entrance that will invite traffic to exit through local streets; 24-hour operations with 38-foot light poles; all-night noise from trucks heading to loading docks; nine homes directly impacted with no offers by WalMart to buy them up.

 

Lastly, there are safety issues for pedestrians (think kids and bicycles) who will have no pedestrian access and will cross two lanes of heavy traffic to reach a median and then two more lanes to reach the other side.

 

So far, elected members of the Blaine City Council have not acknowledged these problems would cause them to vote no! They don’t even agree that home values will take a hit. Citizens have formed the Blaine Citizens for Smart Growth and say they’re not “anti-WalMart.” They simply want the city to stand up for them and demand some family-friendly and taxpayer-friendly fixes.

 

Finally, the big unanswered question is what special deal has the city struck with WalMart to enable this project? Who will make the remaining lease payments and pay the taxes on the empty WalMart building? Is the city’s EDA planning to buy the vacated location from WalMart (if true, a double affront to citizens whose taxes would pay for a project that devalues their homes)?

 

I realize this is not a state issue; it is strictly a local-government issue. I was even told by one Blaine City Council member to butt out of this. However, in light of the council’s heavy-handedness and inattention to its well-meaning citizens, I feel it’s important to express my disappointment over how the city has and continues to handle this project. Citizens should put 6:30 p.m. Feb. 13 on their calendars and head to city hall.

 

Sincerely,

Rep. Linda Runbeck

District 38A

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