Zionsville board denies Walmart plan for Michigan Rd. store

The store would take up about 23 acres.
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Zionsville has turned back a bid by Walmart to build on the outskirts of town.

The Board of Zoning Appeals voted to deny the chain's request to build a store on Michigan Road north of 106th Street Tuesday night. Walmart cannot reapply to build in the town for 12 months.

The company just got approval to build in Greenwood at a meeting Monday night, but it had to make changes to its store plans first.

Residents of Zionsville have fought the store's plans to build there for years.

The highly organized group calls themselves FightBigBox.org and their only order of business is to prevent the retail giant from putting in a much bigger store on this land than what the city's Big Box ordinance allows.

"I don't want to say 'welcome to Zionsville, stop at Walmart and don't shop at any of the stores in Zionsville' because you spent all of your money at Walmart," said Bret Brewer, with FightBigBox.org.

Bret Brewer is waging war against Walmart. The nation's largest retailer is asking not only to move into town, but to put a bigger building than what the city allows. The proposed store would be built near 109th St. and Michigan Rd. on the Hamilton-Boone County line.

"It's a 250 percent increase.They want to go from 60,000 variance rules and say we want to put 156,000 square foot store into a 60,000 square foot space. They want to shove a big box into a small hole," said Bret.

It isn't the first time Walmart has tried to move into Zionsville. Residents resisted those efforts the first time.

Bret lives right around the corner from where the major retailer is trying to build. He's not only worried about his property values decreasing, but also the economy of the town suffering.

"You hire one person at Walmart, you got 1.4 people in the area losing a job," said Bret.

Susan Schube owns Avalon Jewelers-Gallery on Main St. in the town's unique downtown village. While she's confident in her one-of-a-kind writing instruments and jewelry, she is concerned about a big box coming to town.

"I have concerns that some of the small family-owned businesses might be harmed," said Susan.

While Zionsville welcomes people, business and even the traffic to their quaint downtown Main St. area, it's the congestion and many more cars along Michigan Rd. that's the biggest concern.

"It will add about 3,500 additional cars per day," said Bret.

At the Eagle Creek Coffee Shop, Robert Lehnen is hopeful about Walmart.

"We've had a lot of issues with school funding around here and with the way the Indiana tax system is built, business do pump in a lot more money than homeowners do," said Robert.

"The schools aren't going to see a penny of this until 2029," said Bret.

Walmart is building in a TIF district. That stands for tax increment financing. Brewer says studies show much of the tax money will go to redevelopment and when it all shakes out, the schools won't see much money for many years. The Board of Zoning Appeals will hear arguments for both sides tonight at 6:30. FightBigBox.org hopes their case ends Walmart's efforts altogether.