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‘Big box' decision delayed until May 1

April 16, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Teamsters supporting grocers and Calexico residents supporting and deriding Wal-Mart will not be addressing repeal of the "big box" ordinance at a City Council meeting Tuesday.

A demonstration by those in favor of Wal-Mart's plans for expansion has been put on hold.

All contingency planning and community organizing centered around Tuesday's Calexico City Council meeting have shifted to the May 1 meeting.

City Clerk Lourdes Cordova said the protests and demonstrations have been postponed because the verification of petition signatures to authorize the referendum on the "big box" ordinance is not complete.

Instead of hearing from those for and against a Super Wal-Mart, the council will discuss traffic issues on Cole Road, appoint a new commissioner to the Housing Authority board and hear from the owner of the city's bus lines.

The City Council will meet Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall, 608 Heber Ave,

Cordova said Wal-Mart has gathered enough signatures to authorize a referendum on the "big box" ordinance but all the signatures have not been checked.

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"I'm still checking them," Cordova said. "I was close to finishing them on Friday but the county was closed."

To authorize the referendum Wal-Mart needed 900 signatures, or 10 percent of the registered voters in the city.

If the referendum is officially authorized this week, the City Council will have to decide whether to repeal the "big box" ordinance or set a date for an election to decide the matter.

The "big box" ordinance limits stores of more than 150,000 square feet from using more than 7.5 percent of floor space for groceries, which are non-taxable items.

Local supermarket owners and downtown merchants pushed for the ordinance to prevent the "big box" stores from undercutting their prices.

At the April 3 City Council meeting, the five members approved City Attorney Michael Rood's recommendation to have a public hearing April 17 concerning the "big box" ordinance.

That hearing instead will be May 1 and could be at San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus' Rodney Auditorium to allow for more community input.

On Tuesday, instead of impassioned comments from those regarding a Super Wal-Mart, the council will hear from Luis J. Castro. Castro is the owner of the Calexico and Kennedy Transit Buses that criss-cross the city.

He will be asking to add two more seats to his buses. Adding the two bench seats will increase seating capacity in the buses from 36 to 42.

He also wants to change the ordinance that disallows standing in buses. He said he has installed handrails.

The council will discuss a Cole Road circulation design between Highway 111 and Rockwood Avenue.

Mayor Pro Tem John Renison put the item on the agenda because he has a plan to help make access to the La Rosa Shopping Center more convenient.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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