Community

The plan to develop a Wal-Mart on Broadway and Dixie Highway is now heading to the Board of Zoning Adjustments—bringing the project just a couple steps away from construction.

The Louisville Metro Planning Commission on Thursday approved two waivers allowing a Wal-Mart Supercenter to be constructed 600 feet away from Broadway and 18th Street. The waivers are necessary because the land development code calls for buildings to be much closer to the street.

Now, the proposal goes to the Board of Zoning Adjustments for approval of the two variances “that are to exceed the setback” from the roads, said Jessica Wethington, spokeswoman for Develop Louisville.

“If they approve, then Wal-Mart is ready to go into the construction permitting phase,” she added.

To apply for a construction permit, Wal-Mart developers will present a construction plan to the city’s Office of Construction Review. If approved, the permit will be issued, Wethington said.

“Then they break ground,” she added.

There is no set date to break ground on the construction of the Wal-Mart, said Chris Poynter, a spokesman for the Mayor’s office.

The project’s design has been a topic of debate in recent months, with some arguing for an urban design Wal-Mart—closer to the street—instead of the current plans for a suburban-style store with a parking lot in the front.

Critics of Wal-Mart’s construction plans have argued that the store should adhere to the current land development code requiring the building be constructed closer to the street. But proponents of Wal-Mart’s current plan have argued that pushing the corporation to redesign the plans jeopardizes the project.

Moving forward, Louisville’s Metro Council will not be required to approve any action—unless someone appeals Thursday’s Planning Commission decision to approve the waivers, Wethington said.

The full council would need to uphold the appeal, she said, but an appeal would not stall the action needed by the Board of Zoning Adjustments.

“They’re free to move forward with the variances because the appeal would just be for the waiver and development plan,” she said.

To date, no appeals have been submitted, Wethington added.

Poynter said it’s “very rare” for an appeal from a resident to be approved by a Metro Council, canceling a vote by the planning commission.

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