Walmart wins latest round in contentious fight to build Zionsville store

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ZIONSVILLE, Ind. – There is a new chapter in a decade-long war against Walmart in Zionsville. A ruling by a special Hamilton County Judge in a lawsuit Walmart filed states the Zionsvile Plan Commission was wrong in keeping the big-box shop from opening near Michigan Road and 106th Street.

Walmart owns 21 acres along Michigan Road near 106th Street, which currently sits undeveloped.

Zionsville also enacted an ordinance in recent years restricting the retail footage of free-standing commercial retailers to 60,000 square feet.

“We thought it was a dead issue in this area,” said David Halsema.

The battle between big-box retailer Walmart, Zionsville’s Plan Commission, and residents has never ended, despite what some may think.

In 2005, Walmart first filed a petition for development plan approval. The Zionsville Plan Commission (ZPC) would deny it, citing issues with drainage and street requirements, and because part of the property lies in Hamilton County.

Walmart sued in 2008, and a judge said the ZPC was in the wrong.

Walmart tried again to move forward with the store, and the ZPC again denied the store later in 2008, citing the same issues as before.

Walmart sued for the second time saying the commission’s decision amounted to an abuse of discretion, simply based on crime and aesthetic concerns commissioners brought up and not the facts of the case.

“The court finds substantial evidence demonstrates that the Plan Commission has willfully defied this Court’s 2008 remand order and acted in bad faith by not revisiting the matters that this Court remanded to the Plan Commission,” wrote Hamilton County Superior Judge Steven R. Nation, in a decision issued May 27, 2016.

Residents in the area tell us they still object to having Walmart in the community.

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” said Shellie Law, who lives along Michigan Road.

“It doesn’t seem to go along with the type of clientele that’s in this area,” said David Halsema, who lives nearby.

Small business owner Pau Nelson said she too is against the store.

“Zionsville is about taking care of the small businesses and promoting the businesses here in Zionsville,” said Pau Nelson.

The ZPC discussed the issue in executive session Wednesday but made no decision. If they decide to formally appeal, the decision must come in a public meeting. The next one is June 20th. The city of Zionsville wouldn’t comment otherwise.

Walmart's plans at this point remain unclear.

Walmart spokesperson Anne Hatfield released the following statement Thursday evening:

“We are always looking for ways to best serve our customers in Zionsville and throughout Indiana. It is premature to comment further at this time.”