This was posted to the Brentwood listserve which came from the Austin Neighborhood Planning Group:

Dear all,

I had a meeting with an Austin City Council Member this afternoon to discuss the proposed big box ordinance that would ensure a public process for future large-scale retail development in Austin.

In the course of that meeting, the Council Member asked what we thought about the new 180,000 square-foot Wal-Mart supercenter slated for Northcross. I asked if he was sure it was a Wal-Mart because that had not been the case the last time I’d heard. In fact, I vividly recall on-camera denials from Northcross representatives in a local TV news spot earlier this year.

The Council Member said the project was definitely a Wal-Mart and that he had been briefed about this project several times by Wal-Mart representatives (he also told me he believed these briefings were public information, so I am not breaching any confidences in
relaying this information). He seemed to believe the project had already been publicly announced and was surprised to learn that it had not. He also said that Wal-Mart representatives had told him they had already "talked to the neighbors" about it.

I checked with several very active neighbors this afternoon, including a Crestview group that has been trying hard to track this project. None of them had heard this news or seen anything about it on their neighborhood listservs and expressed shock that the project is now apparently a done deal. A friend who is a reporter in the Crestview neighborhood and is well-informed on these issues had also heard nothing about this.

I realize neighborhood communications are not perfect and that sometimes things slip through the cracks, which may simply be the case here. Of course, there is no required public process for these massive projects under the current code so even if neighbors had
been notified and had specific objections to the proposal, there is no existing mechanism to express or address these concerns at this time.

I’ve included some information below about the proposed big box ordinance, which would ensure a public process for future projects of this kind. The proposed ordinance received an 8-0 vote of support at Planning Commission two weeks ago, but has yet to be scheduled for a City Council hearing. If you are concerned about this issue, I strongly encourage you to contact your city council members and request a prompt public hearing on the proposed big box ordinance.

Susan Moffat