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Land Rezone For Walmart Up To SF Voters



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The fate of 39 acres of land on the south side of Sioux Falls now lies in the hands of voters. Sioux Falls City Clerk Lorie Hogstad announced Thursday afternoon that enough valid signatures were collected to put a zoning issue related to a proposed Walmart to a public vote.

Hogstad started the process by verifying the 495 petitions turned in by the group ‘Save Our Neighborhood.’ The group is made up of residents who are against the store’s location across the street from their neighborhood. While Hogstad was busy with that, Walmart representatives filed an affidavit against 2,000 of the signatures.

"You know I have been working this affidavit process alone and that's not including preliminary reviewing the petitions and so on, for about 5 weeks and 160 hours,” Hogstad said.

In August, the ‘Save Our Neighborhood’ group began collecting signatures opposing a rezone that was approved by the Sioux Falls City Council. The land at the center of the controversy sits at 85th Street and Minnesota Avenue. It was zoned agricultural, but is now commercial, which allows the 185,000 square foot store to be built.

Hogstad said when she receives a referendum petition, only 5 percent of the signatures are randomly reviewed. But the affidavit called for nearly half of the signatures to be verified.
     
“I had to base it on state law or state administrative rules which are passed by the state board of elections, and then document each item because when I was finished I had to have a report prepared," Hogstad said.

 That report, is nearly 160 pages. Hogstad said out of the 6,502 signatures turned in, 1,159 were rejected. That left the group with 5,300 signatures, 254 more than needed for the issue to be placed on April's ballot.

‘Save Our Neighborhood’ Spokeswoman Dana Palmer said, "We are obviously pleased and very excited that this will be on the ballot in the spring."

Palmer said she is grateful for all of the support the group has received from the entire community. She said now it's time to rally the troops again to make sure people go out and vote. 

"We'll definitely do our best to get the word out," Palmer said.

As for Hogstad, it’s now time to plan for the April election, and get the big ballot question ready so voters can decide the fate of this land.

In a statement sent after the signatures were verified, Walmart Spokeswoman Delia Garcia said:

"We appreciate the opportunity afforded by the city for a detailed review of petition signatures and look forward to hearing from Sioux Falls voters.  The Walmart at 85th & Minnesota can be a part of the solution for area residents when it comes to providing them the products they need and want closer to where they live and work while also providing hundreds of career opportunities for people in the community. We have worked diligently to respond to the community’s needs and, as a result, continue to hear strong support for this store.”

Voters will decide on this issue April 8.

This is the second item ‘Save Our Neighborhood has successfully petitioned to get on the ballot. The other is a vote on ‘Shape Places,’ which changes the city’s zoning process.

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