Walmart proposal gets Planning Commission’s vote

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The Topeka Planning Commission voted to approve zoning changes for the proposed Walmart.

Before the vote Monday evening, residents had a chance to provide their input on the potential plans during a public hearing.

Most of the people who spoke say they are in favor of putting in the Walmart for various reasons, including access to internships for Highland Park High School students, easy access for residents in that area who have no form of transportation and the potential to bring more businesses to East Topeka.

“We do see this as a great opportunity for the students and families of the highland park community,” says Dustin Dick, Associate Principal of Highland Park High School as he addresses the commission, “And we want you to know we are wholeheartedly in favor of it and we really don’t foresee any significant issues or concerns with having Walmart so close to our school.”

One woman opposed the project, questioning Walmart’s efforts to be environmentally friendly.

“Water conservation requires more than just a containment pond, rather I think Walmart would be perfect with a living roof as a way to recapture rain water and to prevent rain water from being washed away into a pond,” says Mary Akerstrom.

A project engineer says their plan to install LED lights is just one example of their environmental consciousness.

“The LED lighting as opposed to traditional HID lighting you’ll see on most sidewalks, you use a great deal less lighting,” says project engineer Casey Wilder, “And beyond that, you’re also able to control the way the light goes on the property, so it controls where the light goes on the property.”

Now that the project is approved it will go to the City Council and Mayor for final approval. The commission says that is tentatively set for next month.

Walmart agreed to add extra lighting in the parking lot, a divider to separate the store and the neighborhood and a few hundred feet of sidewalks along S.E. 25th Street as requested by a neighborhood group.

The company has also agreed to make traffic changes requested by the city to ensure the area is as safe as possible.

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