Walmart debate continues

The Minot City Council’s 8-5 vote Monday to approve a Walmart on North Hill doesn’t mean the debate over the store’s location has ended.

Residents of a nearby neighborhood objected to the new store, which would be built south of 21st Avenue Northwest, just east of the U.S. Highway 83 Bypass, citing traffic concerns and other issues that come with living next to a large retail store, including a potential rise in crime. Their concerns are legitimate, and considering the project must be approved on a second vote at a future council meeting, we’re sure there will be ongoing discussion between residents and council members who support the project.

Certainly traffic will increase on 21st Avenue Northwest if the Walmart is built, but traffic on that road will also increase when the new Marketplace Foods store and accompanying businesses open soon. But traffic in other parts of Minot could decrease. If a resident of North Hill plans to go to Walmart, they’re not likely going to drive through town to go the the south store, instead choosing to drive to the north store simply because it’s closer. And residents of south Minot aren’t likely to drive to the north Walmart location when they live much closer to the south store. But that’s of little comfort to those living near the proposed North Hill Walmart.

Residents of North Hill have long clamored for businesses to locate in that section of the city. During the 2011 flood, Minot was essentially split in two temporarily, and North Hill residents were frustrated with having to drive across town for everyday items, including groceries and hardware items. The new Marketplace will certainly solve the grocery issue and an accompanying hardware store will help with other items. But there has also been support for building a big box store like Walmart on North Hill through the years, and there’s no reason to believe the store won’t be busy if it’s built. Again, that’s of little solace to those residents living across the street from such a major retail location.

We suspect this issue will resolve itself like similar concerns in the past: Some residents will be happy to have new businesses on North Hill, but we expect those residents more closely affected will never waver in their opposition.