Community

A group opposing plans to develop a Wal-Mart in west Louisville filed suit Monday against the developers and city entities working to move the project forward.

The plaintiffs include residents, business owners and neighborhood associations based in west Louisville. The defendants are Wal-Mart developers, the Planning Commission, Mayor Greg Fischer and the site landowners.

The lawsuit filed in Jefferson Circuit Court alleges that the Jan. 29 decision by the Louisville Metro Planning Commission granting waivers to the Land Development Code is “erroneous, arbitrary and capricious” because of how the commission is composed.

“The planning commission itself has been improperly appointed and it’s improperly constituted because it’s in violation of at least three state laws,” said Steve Porter, the attorney representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Those alleged violations include a lack of women and minorities on the commission, and “it has too many persons on the commission who have a direct financial interest in the land development and construction industry,” Porter said.

“If you have a commission that is illegally constituted they cannot make a reasonable and rational decision,” he added. “My clients are not against he Wal-Mart—we just want them to comply with the code.”

He said the “overall goal is to bring the planning commission in line with state law.”

A spokesman for the mayor’s office declined to comment.

The eight member Planning Commission includes just one woman and just one African American member, which Porter argues is not reflective of the community.

Porter also alleges that at least six and”maybe more” of the commission members have direct financial interest in the business of land development.

He said the lawsuit “doesn’t necessarily” delay the development process of Wal-Mart at Broadway and 18th Street.

“They could go ahead and start work even without a decision on this case,” he said.

Kevin Thompson, a spokesman for Wal-Mart, told Insider Louisville on Monday that developers are looking to break ground “this summer.”

“But that will have to just depend on what happens with the lawsuit once we get a look at that,” he told Insider Louisville.

Porter said if the lawsuit is upheld the mayor would need to reappoint some members of the commission, which would then again hear Wal-Mart’s requests.

“It would be a new day as far as the hearing is concerned, the planning commission could end up making the same decision or a different decision,” he said.

Porter is representing his clients in this case at no cost.

He is also representing a group of residents in the Tucker Station neighborhood in a similar lawsuit against the Planning Commission. That case is still pending.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.