Group's Fight Against Walmart Continues
by Betsy Jibben, Reporter
September 28, 2013 7:43 PM
The fight between residents with the 'Save Our Neighborhood' group and Walmart continues. For months, the group has tried to prevent another store from being constructed near 85th Street and Minnesota Avenue in Sioux Falls. Now, The City Clerk says the group has gathered enough petition signatures to put the issue to a vote next spring. But that doesn't mean it will happen just yet.
There are over 100,000 registered voters within the city limits of Sioux Falls. The group had to collect 5 percent of the total registered voters to sign on the dotted line, which they did. However, Walmart is questioning if whether up to 2,000 of their signatures are valid.
Residents with the 'Save Our Neighborhood' group have faced a number of challenges when it comes to fighting a big box store from entering their neighborhood. At one point they went door to door collecting signatures to make sure it doesn't happen.
The group needed 5,089 petition signatures to put the City Council's decision to rezone the land on 85th Street and Minnesota Avenue for a new Walmart to a public vote.
They collected more than enough. Then, a random sample was done on 5 percent of the signatures. It showed that more than enough, more than 5,600 signatures are valid.
"We are really pleased that we had the significant amount of signatures after the city clerk did her review. I think we had 86 percent validity on the percent we turned in which we are pleased about,” said Save Our Neighborhood spokesperson, Dana Palmer.
It's good news for the group, but there's still a fight to be had. Walmart is questioning whether more than 2,000 of those signatures are valid. If more than 1,200 of them are invalid, the group will fall below the amount required to put the issue to a vote.
"We're confident that there are not 2-thousand invalid signatures on our petitions,” said Palmer.
So for now, they'll wait while the city looks at the complaints, a process that could take weeks.
"Some of those that they've challenged, we've been able to look at and they aren't reasons that you can challenge those as invalid under the administrative rules," said Palmer.
The groups says they're frustrated with how long the issue has been drawn out, but appreciates the process.
"We understand the process, and I think that's one of the things we have been in support of is the process and being able to refer a vote like this," said Palmer.
If the city concludes those signatures are invalid, the group says they are likely to submit their own challenge to the city.
The group says if the issue makes on the ballot in April, it will not be during a special election, but during the mayoral election. It could be on a ballot with other issues like the building of Spellerberg pool and using snow gates.