Beale Says He Won't Bypass Zoning Committee on Walmart

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Ninth Ward alderman Anthony Beale says he’s not going to use a parliamentary maneuver to bring a proposal for a new Walmart before the full City Council meeting Wednesday.

"Absolutely not," he said in an interview today. "I just think we're so close to having some unity in the City Council as it relates to my project, and you don't want to offset that by forcing the issue."

For the past two months Beale has been pushing the zoning committee to sign off on Pullman Park, a mixed-use development project that would include the city’s second Walmart store. But the chairman of that committee, 25th Ward alderman Daniel Solis, keeps dragging his feet on calling for a vote on the project, evidently because it might not have the support to pass.

The zoning committee was originally slated to vote on Pullman Park in May, but Solis said he wanted to give Walmart and unions more time to work out their differences on wages and benefits, so he pushed the vote to June. It didn't happen. Walmart and the unions never sat down with each other, and the project was pulled from this month’s committee agenda the day before aldermen were slated to vote on it. Not surprisingly, it didn’t look like the plan Park had enough votes to pass the zoning committee.

The project is before the committee because it requires a zoning change. But Walmart’s other big promoter in City Hall—Mayor Daley—has previously floated the idea of bypassing the zoning committee to let the full City Council vote on the plan. According to the council’s rules of order, two-thirds of the council would have to sign off on the maneuver, which is rarely used outside of passing non-binding resolutions.

But if Daley could get past that hurdle, the project would probably have a better chance of passing since the zoning committee includes several of the strongest union supporters in the council. At the very least, the maneuver would let Daley put more aldermen on the hook.

Beale said he’s met with most of his colleagues “three or four times” about Walmart and thinks it’s paying off.

“I’m feeling good about where we are right now,” he said.

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