Southfield council members vote down proposed Walmart plan

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) - The city council overwhelmingly voted down a proposal to re-zone an abandoned church lot that Walmart was eyeing for its newest metro area store.

Five council members voted against the proposal, one voted for it and one member abstained.

The vote came after a meeting that lasted over five hours Monday night. Dozens of residents spoke out against the big chain, claiming a new store would have increased congestion, upset property values and was a potential threat to locally owned businesses.

Walmart officials, who attended the meeting, said they conducted a traffic study, which not only cleared county requirements, but also pointed out the Southfield council planning committee voted to send the proposal for a full council vote.

Other residents argued the city needed the store to help with employment and increased tax revenue. A new Walmart could have added 300 jobs to the area.

At issue was whether Walmart should have been allowed to buy a now-vacant church, St. Bede, at the corner of Southfield and 12 Mile.

The 9.4-acre lot is owned by the Archdiocese and has been vacant for approximately seven years. The church already agreed to sell the property to Walmart but since the council voted against re-zoning the property it's unlikely the sale will go through.

St. Bede was built back in 1954. It closed several years ago when the Archdiocese merged four churches.

The Archdiocese won't disclose the proposed sale price.

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