Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
The mere mention of the name causes polarization, the widest range of emotions.
“I hate them.”
“I love Wal-Mart.”
I am not a member of the Wal-Mart Haters Society. Nor am I all goose-pimply about the stores, either. However, I am supportive and do not have the utter disdain so many seem to foster for this monstrous chain.
People enjoy shopping there because of the variety and value. Employees enjoy working there. Thus, I don’t see a problem.
Then there is Menards.
In Monroe, Wisconsin, a recent editorial in their local paper says there has been “consternation created in Monroe in recent years by proposals for new big box stores.”
Given that alleged sentiment, one would expect a certain degree of public outrage at the prospect of a huge new Menards that’s been proposed.
A public hearing on the 242,000-square-foot development was held last week.
Not a soul from the general public made any kind of statement at the hearing.
None of the Monroe City Council members questioned the project.
The vote to approve Menards' planned unit development (PUD) application was unanimous.
Now the fun begins as Menards begins the ever-so-pleasant ordeal of applying for state permits. That usually amounts to over a year of bureaucratic nightmares and the forfeiture of several first-borns.
The Monroe Times editorializes, “Of course, as we have seen with the Wal-Mart Supercenter project, entering the state permitting stage doesn't necessarily speed the process. Ironically, the final plans for a Wal-Mart Supercenter will end up being approved by the City Council after Menards' proposal. A revised PUD for a smaller Supercenter is scheduled for a public hearing Feb. 5.”
Not one but two super development projects going up in Monroe, and no townsfolk carrying lanterns and pitchforks.
What could it mean, the Monroe Times asked.
The paper supplied its own answers:
“First, it appears the Monroe community has at least grown to accept, if not embrace, the reality of large-scale retail development. Today seems a long way from the day when voters rejected by a two-thirds vote in a non-binding referendum the idea of such a store coming to Monroe.
In the Times' online reader poll the past week, there were 481 responses to the question: "What kind of impact do you think a Wal-Mart Supercenter and a Menards megastore will have on the Monroe economy?" Of those responses, an overwhelming 77 percent (368 votes) said the large-scale stores will have a positive effect. Only 18 percent said they would have a negative effect, and 5 percent said they'd have no impact.
The public in general seems to have looked past that initial, knee-jerk resistance to large-scale retail stores. Yes, there are certain challenges presented to existing businesses when large-scale developments come to town. But those are far outweighed by the tax benefits they bring and the economic growth opportunities they create.”
The paper then offers a suggestion that Franklin should consider:
“Now, with Menards' application process done and Wal-Mart's revised plans likely to be approved next month, the city would be wise to reassess the large-scale retail development application process - before what hopefully will be another round of proposals occurs.
Are there ways the process can be speeded up? Menards' interest in Monroe has been public knowledge for a year and a half. Do the drawn-out proceedings jeopardize development projects? Do adjustments in the community attitudes toward large-scale retail developments merit changes in the city's approach?”
The answers to the above questions are yes, yes, and yes.
Meanwhile, the fedgazette in its latest newspaper has written a lengthy report on the Wal-Mart effect.
It leans toward an over-all positive impact from Wal-Mart on communities they serve.
Here’s the complete report.