Decision on future of West Louisville Wal-Mart could come any day

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As the shock waves continue to reverberate from Wal-Mart's decision not to build a store in west Louisville, there are efforts on several fronts to lure the company back and prevent similar situations in the future.

Mayor Greg Fischer sent a letter Monday to Wal-Mart President and CEO Doug McMillan, asking him to reconsider.

The move comes as members of Metro Council announce support for a petition drive launched by Louisville minister Rev. Kirk Bush.

"I think it would have made a tremendous impact on west Louisville," said Rev. Bush, pastor of Harrods Creek Baptist Church.

Rev. Bush says he has not given up on a Wal-Mart in west Louisville and began an online petition drive to convince Wal-Mart to come back.

He blames an ongoing lawsuit challenging the store's design for sinking the project.

"I just think the process took too long. The whole process was just slowed up. They may have had the right to file a lawsuit, but the process was just slow," Bush told WDRB.

Rep. Jerry Miller (R-Louisville) says that is what moved him to file his bill.

It could potentially shorten the time lawsuits are tied up in court by requiring those who file suit to post a bond payable to the property owner, if they lose in circuit court and decide to appeal.

"It would be the amount of expected legal fees. And it might be some damages if the buyer, the developer of the property, ultimately walks away," said Miller.

In the Wal-Mart case, that could have meant millions of dollars paid to the property owner.

Preservationists say such a law would have a chilling effect on the ability of homeowners and neighborhood groups to challenge development.

"This is a way of punishing even meritorious appeals by neighborhood associations, and it is blatantly unconstitutional," said Tom Fitzgerald of the Kentucky Resource Council.

Similar bills have failed in the past, but Miller believes he has a better chance with a new GOP majority in Frankfort.

"To me, this issue is about property rights and economic development," Miller said.

After the Wal-Mart experience, Rev. Bush is open to the idea.

"Anytime things take a long time, people start second guessing their decision, then they don't want to deal with it anymore, and they just leave," he said.

Wal-Mart says it was a business decision, not the lawsuit, that caused it to walk away from west Louisville.

Metro Council members supporting Bush's petition gathered Monday afternoon at the site of the proposed store.

"We need a groundswell of people here in this community and outside of this community to come together and say this is what we want,” said Metro Councilwoman Mary Woolridge.

“I think they need to understand something – that we want Walmart here as much as anything in the world," said Metro Councilman Kelly Downard. “This thing we hope is just not over and we are prepared to do any darn thing we have to do to get them here.”

"I believe in prayer, but I also believe in pushing, and we’re gonna keep pushing this thing until the wheels fall off,” said Councilwoman Jessica Green.

Bush says he wants 30,000 signatures before sending it to Wal-Mart.

Related Stories:

3 council members back petition asking Wal-Mart to return to west Louisville

Walmart backs out of planned west Louisville store

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