Not much new, but last week (January 26) the San Antonio Express-News published another article on the Wal-Mart in Helotes story:
HELOTES — A week after City Council voted to stonewall plans for a Wal-Mart Supercenter on a pastoral slice of property straddling the city boundary and its extraterritorial jurisdiction, store officials say they'd still like to negotiate with the city and residents.
On Jan. 12, City Council voted 3-2 to have city attorneys draft a moratorium on new commercial development at that intersection, hinging on a traffic study done by the city. It also authorized the city to file suit to prevent development that would be in violation of the public health, safety and welfare of the residents.
It was a move that was met with approval by Helotes and Grey Forest residents who have been pushing the council to fight the retailer.
"To the surprise of the group that was so adamantly opposed to Wal-Mart, the majority of the council supports not having Wal-Mart," said Helotes Mayor Steve Hodges. "They're looking at it more as a quality-of-life issue than a money issue."
Any such action could stop development on the site because a sliver of property along Scenic Loop Road rests within the city limits, said city attorney David Earl.
"Their development has presumed an access directly on Scenic Loop Road, and the city has a clear concern for truck traffic and additional traffic on Scenic Loop Road," Earl said. "Despite raising those concerns, Wal-Mart has never changed the proposal.
"I think the move is prudent and correct given the fact that (the council) has the desire and obligation to protect the integrity of the traffic system within its city limits. In addition, it has the power to enforce traffic regulations in its (extraterritorial jurisdiction.)"
The city also could take legal action based on the Texas Local Government Code that says that the city has a right to prevent any development that would create a nuisance within 5,000 feet, he explained.
But councilman Jim Caruso, who voted against taking action to thwart Wal-Mart, said the attempt is not a slam-dunk, and the cost of fighting it will rest on taxpayer shoulders.
"My opinion is that by doing that, we weren't being as forthcoming to the citizens of Helotes as the council should have been," he said. "There was no discussion to let the citizens know that it's a pretty weak effort on our part that could potentially work, but the lawyers weren't really warm and fuzzy about the idea."
Caruso said the city turned its back on a good offer that could be an economic boon to the city. If store officials requested annexation to Helotes, city officials have estimated it could mean a gain of more than $1 million in revenues each year.
Now, they will be lucky if Wal-Mart continues to extend an olive branch, Caruso said.
"If you're there to offer the community a supercenter that would boost tax revenues up and are willing to redesign a standard, ugly store into something that looks like old town Helotes and you're willing to meet requirements that the city has instilled on all its businesses ... and somebody bites off your hand, what do you think your reaction would be? I think they are going to stick their middle finger at us and tell us to go to hell," he said.
Given Wal-Mart's new found love for public relations, I think Caruso is mistaken. But we'll see.