West Louisville residents pray for proposed Walmart, even as critics protest
Conflicting protests broke out Wednesday afternoon over a proposed west Louisville Walmart on the eve of a major city vote.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Conflicting protests broke out Wednesday afternoon over a proposed west Louisville Walmart on the eve of a major city vote.
It started out as a prayer meeting, which is not too unusual for a Louisville church.
"Father, we're asking in your name that you would intercede," prayed one attendee.
"We are going to pray that you will move on the hearts of the planning commission," prayed another.
A good word on the side of the road: you've probably seen that before. But this prayer is different.
"Help Walmart, heavenly father, to keep the door open," another attendee prayed.
"We trust you, believe in you, that you going to work it out in Jesus' name we pray, amen," said another attendee.
A group of ministers from the Justice Resource League took their pleas to the proposed site of a new west Louisville Walmart, hoping the city's planning and zoning board would hear. On Thursday, they're taking up the issue of the proposed location at the corner of 18th Street and Broadway, as well as Walmart's push for a special variance. At issue is the dilemma of whether or not the store should be an urban or suburban design.
Most of the businesses on Broadway come up to the curb. Walmart wants to put its parking lot near the curb and put its building in back. That's the difference between the suburban design and the urban design.
Walmart has refused to change its plans and leaders here say the company will walk away if the city doesn't bend.
"The cosmetic is not the problem here," said Rev. Milton Seymore, the pastor of Energized Baptist Church. "Our problem is we need jobs."
But the crowd is not all of one accord.
"This is blasphemy," said one critic among the crowd. "We're not here praying for the least of these. We're praying for the richest family in America."
Critics say Walmart pays low wages and that competition will hurt small urban business.
Opposition also rallied Wednesday outside the planning and zoning office.
"We don't want slavery," several shouted at a protest outside the office.
"We want our mayor and council people to stand up with us and say to this Walmart that we won't be bullied," said Rev. Gerome Sutton of the African American Think Tank. "If they're going to come into our community than come correct."
The community stakeholders are split, with their campaigns coming to a close.
The planning and zoning meetings starts a 1 p.m. Thursday and Walmart is on the agenda. We will be following the decision tomorrow on the news at 4.
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