There hasn't been much noise lately about the Heights Walmart, except thoseembarrassing e-mails
from city officials, but one group opposed to the development still has hopes that the project can be derailed.
Colton Candler, a representative with the group, told Hair Balls he's hoping that a couple hundred cars will show up, decked out in anti-Walmart red, to drive around the proposed site and illustrate how just a fraction of the traffic from a new Walmart can clog up the area.
"If just a few hundred cars can back up Yale, it'll be pretty good [to show how bad traffic will be]," Candler says.
The group is also calling for $10 donations to raise money to hire engineers and drainage experts to conduct studies on how the Walmart development will affect the area.
"The city still does not have a traffic impact study for the site," Candler says. "That's troublesome."
Candler said he called the Texas Department of Transportation last week to find out what studies, if any, have been submitted by the city. The only thing on file was a study for a mixed-use development, which, Candler says, would generate completely different traffic patterns than a Walmart.
Responsible Urban Development has been trying, through open records requests, to get copies
of any traffic and drainage studies of certain documents (see update below) related to the Walmart development, but Candler says the city has delayed releasing them by asking the state's Attorney General if the information has to be released.
The city used a similar tactic, Candler charges, to delay releasing those e-mails to Channel 13's Miya Shay until the City Council had a chance to vote on the 380 agreement.
"I can't believe we've gotten this far in the process, and we still don't know what the traffic will look like," Candler says. " It's unfortunate that [residents] are going to have to pay for [studies] that the city should have already provided."
After the 380 agreement was approved, city officials said that a separate "operating agreement" would be drawn up with Walmart. Candler says he "doesn't have much faith" in that, considering that the city almost unanimously approved the 380.
Despite that vote, however, Candler thinks that his group can still change the way the Walmart is developed.
"Our overall goal is to have responsible development," Candler says. "Whether that's no Walmart or a smaller Walmart, we just want responsible development."
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Update: Candler sent us more information today about what, exactly, Responsible Urban Development requested from the city:
1. The application completed by the Ainbinder Company submitted to the City of Houston, as required by City Ordinance 99-674, for the section 380 Agreement for the Washington Heights Development at Yale and Koehler Street. In addition to the initial application, all forms, if any exist, required by the City of Houston when applying for a section 380 agreement.
2. Any correspondence through e-mail or written mail between the City of Houston and the Ainbinder Company and/or Walmart related to the 380 agreement for Washington Heights Development.
3. All documentation to the "Sarah Hunt Deal." (The deal relates to the connection of Bass Street to the feeder road. According to Candler, "the city traded land with Sarah Hunt, who owned land along Bass Street. The developer (Ainbinder) was initially required to acquire land along Bass Street by TxDOT in order to connect Bass Street to the feeder road.")