Wal-Mart says it will fight for Kauai expansion
The company says its plans were approved before a big-box ban
Wal-Mart Stores said yesterday it is plowing forward with plans to build its first superstore on Kauai despite a new law on the Garden Isle banning big-box stores.
In May, the Kauai County Council passed a law prohibiting any retail or wholesale store larger than 75,000 square feet -- the first ban of its kind in the state.
But Wal-Mart Stores says it had already won the county's legal approval of the existing Lihue Wal-Mart's expansion long before the new ban went into effect. Therefore, the county should not be able to withdraw that approval.
"When we originally built the Lihue Wal-Mart, the county approved a master plan for the site that called for expanding the store to approximately 185,000 square feet," said Wal-Mart spokesman Kevin Loscotoff. "The County Council has now acted to stop development of any new large-format retail stores on the island, but the ban should not apply to a project that was already approved."
The average Wal-Mart discount store is 101,000 square feet and the average Wal-Mart superstore is 185,000 square feet. Kauai's Lihue Wal-Mart currently measures about 118,000 square feet.
Kauai Council members said they voted for the big-box ban to protect the county's rural character as well as its small mom-and-pop businesses.
Loscotoff said residents on Kauai have indicated that they want a superstore -- a larger format Wal-Mart that includes a discount supermarket. A public opinion survey commissioned by Wal-Mart Stores indicated 56 percent of Kauai voters supported the expansion, while 38 percent opposed it.
Wal-Mart's application is pending before the Kauai Planning Commission, with a public hearing scheduled for Aug. 14.