A letter from the town of Edgewood to Walmart will address the color of the building. That was amongst other business conducted by the town council at its regular meeting last week.
Several people have called The Independent to complain that Walmart—in the middle of the night—power-washed the nesting sparrows from its walls before applying new paint. The birds are a protected species under the Migratory Bird Act, which prohibits interfering with nests or nestlings.
The issue first came up at the Edgewood Walmart in 2011, when an estimated 200 to 300 nests were washed from the walls.
The federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 was intended to protect birds migrating between the U.S. and Canada—and has been updated many times since then to include birds migrating to other countries as well—and made it illegal to disturb a migratory bird, nest or egg. In total 836 bird species are protected.
At that time, a manager at Walmart commented that if anybody wanted to do anything about it, they should call 800-WALMART.
Also at that time, a spokeswoman for Walmart said the company had a “bird control program.”
She also said that future decisions about the birds would be left to the expertise of the contractors hired to control the birds.
This time around, Edgewood resident Albert Beckwith told The Independent that the big box store had again washed the nests and nestlings from the side of the store in preparation for painting.
Walmart did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
That paint job was the subject of the discussion at the town council, and the letter the town will now write to Walmart.
When the store came into town, the company at that time made a big deal of the fact that the store would blend into the community. It was one of two or three stores in the country at that time which had green in its color scheme.
Those details of color were included in planning documents in possession of the town.
Councilor Chuck Ring said the color scheme had been chosen after input from town residents, saying, “[Walmart] agreed to paint it in earth tones,” adding, “I was naive enough to think we could keep those colors.”
Ring suggested that the town write a letter asking Walmart “to make changes to the changes they made,” saying the new color scheme looks like a circus.
Mayor John Bassett agreed, saying that minutes from town council meetings and newspaper stories from that time back Ring up. He said he contacted the store manager who said he or she would see what could be done.
“The citizens care,” Bassett said.
Councilor Rita Loy Simmons said she also wants the letter to thank the company for locating in Edgewood.
Ring then said he wants the store to clean up the blowing trash that has long been an issue in the fields east of the Walmart parking lot. Those fields, and the cholla cactus in them catch the plastic bags and other trash that blows from the parking lot.
Over the years, Walmart has had crews go out to pick up the litter, and community volunteers have done the same.
Ring suggested that Walmart could make a donation to Boy Scouts “and let them clean it up.”
In other business, the council voted to appoint an interim police chief, Jared Kuchan. At its previous meeting, the mayor had made an interim appointment; the council’s vote ratifies that action.
Ring abstained from the vote. “I’ve been instructed not to vote on anything to do with the police department,” he said, because he has a lawsuit against the town.
Ring added, “I’d like to point out that Jared Kuchan is doing the same.”
The vote passed unanimously with Ring abstaining.
Bassett said an appeal of the infill annexation had been filed by Butch Johanson, who had spoken against the annexation at the hearing held by the Municipal Boundary Commission last month.
The Commission will now hold a hearing in Edgewood. “It seems like at this point we’re going to be spectators to it,” Bassett said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the town had not yet received notice of a date for a hearing on the appeal, according to town clerk Juan Torres.
Torres said that the town’s attorneys would update the public on the infill appeal at its next regular council meeting June 15.
The council also spent a considerable time talking about the town’s zoning and subdivision ordinances, and will send them both back to the planning and zoning commission for suggested changes.
That came after Bonnie Pettee asked for direction from the town council on how to handle minor subdivisions.
Wording about the minor subdivision is vague, and most applicants are trying to do the minor subdivision because there is virtually no paperwork, Pettee said, asking, “What was your intent when you put this together?”
After some discussion, the council agreed that the town’s planning and zoning commission should offer suggested changes which the town council will then consider.
Bassett also mentioned that height restrictions had been removed from mixed use zoning.
Both the subdivision and zoning ordinances will be reviewed by the planning and zoning commission, which will then propose changes.