Neighbors know they can’t stop Lakeview Wal-Mart, so they want to control it

June 27, 2012 at 12:57 am


Tiffany Lane/MEDILL Gloria Picchetti (center), member of the South East Lake View Neighbors, is among many locals angered over the possibility of a Wal-Mart coming to the area.

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Lakeview residents are concerned that the proposal to bring a Wal-Mart into the neighborhood will take away the cultural feel and hurt its mom-and-pop shops.

“Let’s have smaller storefronts and street life like we do in the rest of our neighborhoods,” said local resident and business owner Paul Fehribach.

Fehribach said Lakeview residents are not looking to shop in big box developments.

“It will have a detrimental effect on the feel of the street and there will be tons of traffic,” Fehribach said.

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) told residents at a neighborhood meeting Monday that he wanted to propose to the zoning committee a maximum of 25,000 feet for any retailer that took the vacancy.

Max Bever, director of community outreach for Tunney, said members of a community group, South Edge Lake View Neighbors, will have a chance to discuss and vote on the downsized store plan before Tunney would do anything in the City Council.

The proposal for Lakeview is for a Wal-Mart Market store, which is more similar to a grocery store than a typical Wal-Mart, and generally is about one-third the size.

Residents asked Tunney to present the zoning limit to the City Council.

Maureen Martino, executive director of the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce, agrees that the main focus now is to limit the size if the Wal-Mart goes in.

“Whether we like Wal-Mart or don’t like Wal-Mart, it doesn’t matter because it has the right to go in,” she said.

Martino said that if the company followed zoning laws, there is legally no way to prevent it from becoming a tenant.

“If this does go through, the only possible way we can fight this is don’t shop there,” Martino said.

Gloria Picchetti, member of the South Edge Lake View Neighbors, was opposed to the Wal-Mart for political reasons and because she said it would affect local businesses.

“Even if the products are local products, it still supports their board of directors, their shareholders – and they’re completely immoral,” she said.

“I don’t care if I starve to death naked,” Pichetti said. “I don’t want it here.”

Another resident, however, said she is not mainly concerned with the effects the company will have on the culture and diversity of the community.

“I would be more willing to contemplate a Wal-Mart in the area if it would be placed where it actually will be needed,” said Susanne Batka, who is 85.

Batka, who lives near Belmont and Sheridan, said all of the main food centers in Lakeview, including Trader Joe’s and World Market, are within a mile of each other, which makes it difficult to travel to for those who live on the opposite end of the neighborhood.