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Battle rages over Ventura Wal-Mart

April 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The fight over a proposal to open a Walmart on Ventura's Victoria Avenue drew a standing-room-only crowd to the Ventura City Council meeting on Monday night. Opponents of the store won one round, but lost another.The council agreed to a so-called "No Big-Box Store" provision that limits the size of retail stores along the Victoria Avenue commercial corridor to 100,000 square feet.

In February, Walmart submitted plans to open a 130,000 square-foot store. City planners say, those plans would be allowed under the new provision. However, the council also voted 5-2 to allow existing stores along the corridor to be updated with the addition of loading docks, new entrances, and other improvements.

That could clear the way for Walmart to move into the 84,000 square-foot site of a former Kmart, and make modifications to the building.

Opponents of the proposed Walmart, including members of the citizens group Livable Ventura, have cited concerns over traffic, parking, the company's business practices, and the impact on small local businesses.

However at the council meeting some resident said they welcomed the store's low prices, and suggested the city would benefit from increased sales taxes.

The fight over Walmart is part of a larger debate over the Victoria Avenue Corridor Plan, a 20-year proposal aimed at revitalizing the thoroughfare.

The Ventura County Star contributed to this report.