Meeting spurs Walmart protesters

About 20 people used a canceled town hall meeting Tuesday afternoon as a forum to protest a 152,495-square-foot Walmart Supercenter proposed for south Gardnerville.

"In today's economic and political climate, I don't think a big box store should come in here without being challenged," said protester and Gardnerville resident Scott Rankin. "What few jobs might be provided will be at the expense of local business owners who lose jobs and have to cut back."

Rankin was one of many protesters gathered in the parking lot of the Gardnerville town offices, sporting signs with anti-Walmart slogans. Rankin had painted Walmart's happy face logo with fangs and horns.

"Enough is enough," the sign read.

On the flip side, the same logo was looming over a set of mountains, peeking into a green valley.

"Killing local business one Main Street at a time," the sign read.

Originally scheduled for Tuesday, a hearing by Gardnerville Town Board members to reconsider a design review for the project was postponed to 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 6 at the applicant's request.

On Sept. 1, town board members voted to continue the item after hours of presentation and debate, during which dozens of residents and business owners voiced opposition to the project.

October's meeting will give the town another chance to make an advisory recommendation on the design review before Douglas County community development makes a decision regarding the application. The county's deadline has been extended to Oct. 21.

The superstore, which will include a market, pharmacy and tire and lube center, is proposed for roughly 20 acres of commercial land along Highway 395, between Service Drive and Carson Valley Medical Center. The project is part of the 226-acre Virginia Ranch specific plan, which includes more than 1,000 residential units and up to 100 acres of commercial zoning.

Gardnerville resident Linda Kleiner, who helped organize the protest, said she's circulated dozens of petitions to Valley residents and businesses requesting that studies be completed on the social, economic and environmental impacts of the proposed Walmart, among other things, prior to approval of the project.

"I now have 200 signatures," Kleiner said on Tuesday.

Kleiner has also circulated a report that analyzes Walmart's conformance to the Virginia Ranch specific plan. The report was authored by Jeff Codega, a conceptual planner for Scolari's Food & Drug Co., who contends the proposed store would clash with design standards set in the specific plan.

At the protest, Ed Kleiner, Linda's husband, was carrying a sign that said "Support Gardnerville's small town vision."

"It's monolithic; it doesn't fit," Kleiner said. "Even the town ordinance has specific wordage to that effect."

However, despite repeated honking from passing cars, there are differing views on Walmart.

As of Tuesday, results of The Record-Courier's online poll, which asked readers if they'd shop at the proposed store, showed that 65.5 percent of more than 850 voters would shop at Walmart, while 34.5 percent would not.


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