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Published: Thursday, 10/11/2007

Ball: Wal-Mart is not right for North Towne

David Ball, a candidate for City Council District 6 representing Point Place, North Toledo, and part of West Toledo, yesterday opposed a purported plan by Wal-Mart to redevelop the former North Towne Square Mall on Alexis Road.

No application has been made to the city to rezone or redevelop the former mall, now called Lakeside Centre, and Wal-Mart officials yesterday did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Mr. Ball, a political independent who has the Green Party's endorsement, said Alexis has enough retail businesses already, and that Toledo in general is overly concerned with attracting retail business.

"Instead of investing in more retail, let's start investing in new technology, and start creating better-paying jobs," he said.

Mr. Ball is running against Democrat Lindsay Webb for the seat being vacated by Republican Councilman Joe Birmingham. Mr. Birmingham lost in the Sept. 11 primary to Mr. Ball and Ms. Webb.

John Widmer, administrator of the Toledo-Lucas County Plan Commission, said he has seen no paperwork from the company nor participated in any discussions about Wal-Mart in connection with that site.

Mr. Ball said his information about Wal-Mart is based on a statement by Ms. Webb at a previous political forum. He said even if there were no competing proposals for redevelopment of the privately owned Lakeside Centre, he would oppose rezoning for a Wal-Mart based on the firm's business practices.

Ms. Webb yesterday confirmed she has received information that Wal-Mart has expressed interest in rezoning the former mall, but said it would be premature for her to take a position.

"I have said consistently I will vote the conscience of the community, and that remains to be seen," Ms. Webb said. "But we can do better than Wal-Mart."

She said efforts by the current owners to develop the 75-acre site into a light-industrial center haven't panned out, and that it may be better suited for commercial or retail use.



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