Developers of the proposed Redlands Crossing commercial center – featuring a Super Walmart - got another cool reception from residents Tuesday night during the second public hearing held by the Redlands Planning Commission.
Developers were peppered with questions from commissioners who focused on getting some of the public’s questions answered, while also picking apart some of the details of the project.
The commission did not vote on the project. The issue was continued to an April 10 meeting.
Commissioners want to see more details on including public art, entryway markers for the center, better pedestrian walkways and a better incorporation of the city’s history into the design.
“This project is a major portal to the city,” said Planning Commissioner Julie Rock. “While the architecture on this project is lovely, it doesn’t say Redlands to me. And I think that that is a mistake for this project … which is located at such a critical location.”
A steady stream of speakers, however, debated less about the visual appeal and more about its impact on the community, again touching on a concern for traffic, noise, pollution, crime and small business. They criticized the Wal-Mart Corporation’s labor track record.
The proposed Walmart would include a grocery section, garden and auto center and a pharmacy and banking center, according to staff reports. Developers propose to build on 33 acres at the southeast corner of San Bernardino Avenue and Tennessee Street.
“I’m in favor of local business prosperity, American vitality and a democracy untainted by special interest money,” Brian Roche told the planning commission as his reason for opposing the large box retailer. “Now if you rely solely on what you see on the (Environmental Impact Report) you might be tempted to think you’ve done your due diligence. You might think, 'More traffic more smog, CO2, maybe 10 percent business leakage, we can handle that. It’s only going to get worse anyway.'”
This would be a mistake on the part of the commission, he said. The report misses a larger perspective. Those reports set thresholds of loss and decay brought about by the corporation. It cannot guarantee that communities will be unaffected, he said.
“Architectural renderings and plans can be seductive, but the heart of the matter is not if they have their ducks in a row but what is good for our community and our town. Please consider carefully,” Roche said.
The Walmart had it’s supporters, including Samuel Davis, of Redlands, who told the commission he has family members who work for the retailer and have been treated like family.
They pay benefits. Many employees are paid well, he said.
“We are well-known at the Redlands Walmart because my son works there,” he said. He also has family who works at an Athens, Ga., store.
“I have seizures and I have to call up my son for help a lot of times,” he said. "All my wife had to do was to make a call to the store here in Redlands and they gave me all the time in the world to take care of me.”
“Not many companies would do that for their employees,” he said.
The next meeting will be held at the Redlands City Hall, 35 Cajon St.