Zionsville decides not to appeal decision in Wal-Mart case

June 21, 2016

Zionsville doesn't plan to appeal a recent court decision requiring the town to approve Wal-Mart Store Inc.'s 10-year-old proposal for a store along Michigan Road.

The decision requires the Plan Commission to approve Wal-Mart’s proposal for a store on a 22-acre property the company owns on Michigan Road north of 106th Street. The land is along the border of Hamilton and Boone counties.

Special Judge Steve Nation ruled last month that the Zionsville Plan Commission wrongly rejected a request from Wal-Mart to build a store in 2008 and that the advisory body ignored previous court instructions regarding the giant retailer’s initial plans submitted in 2006.

On Monday night, the Plan Commission unanimously agreed not to pursue further legal action in the case, but did not make any comments on the issue.

In a written statement issued after the meeting, Mayor Tim Haak said he's disappointed in the court ruling.

"Given the judge's mandate, it is now time to move on with the hope of reaching out and partnering with Wal-Mart with the hope of finding a common solution in developing a store that is more suitable to today's economic environment," Haak said.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart has not said yet whether it will pursue a store on the property, but industry experts have told IBJ that it’s likely the company will pull the trigger on a project.

In June 2006, Wal-Mart filed its first lawsuit against the town after the Plan Commission denied its proposal for a 300,000-square-foot shopping center anchored by a Walmart Supercenter.

In 2008, the court ruled in favor of Wal-Mart and ordered the Plan Commission to review the project again but under stricter guidelines.

The Plan Commission denied the request again, which prompted the current lawsuit filed by Wal-Mart.

The company charged that the denial was arbitrary and the town had “willfully defied” the 2006 ruling.

Zionsville had argued that the Plan Commission’s denial was justified because the project didn’t meet regulations in the town’s zoning and subdivision control ordinances.

Nation's ruling is expected to only apply to the 2006 proposal, so if the company opted for a store similar to what it proposed in 2012 — a 156,000-square-foot store with 3,000 square feet of space for other businesses like Subway or a salon — the approval process would likely start over.


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