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Wal-Mart a symbol for North Carson

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

It’s a bit of an overstatement to say the resurrection of North Carson City’s business future begins today with the Planning Commission’s consideration of plans for a new Wal-Mart.

After all, the new freeway – lo, these many years in the planning – is spurring the development. A new Holiday Inn Express is nearing completion. Carson-Tahoe Hospital has broken ground on its giant medical center. There are many encouraging signs.

Yet, just as the closing of Kmart symbolized a low point in North Carson retail, the building of a Wal-Mart supercenter will symbolize its new life.

To be honest, we haven’t been pining for another Wal-Mart. We recognize the blow to the city’s retail sales-tax base when the company moved across the line to Douglas County, but we also know the damage another supercenter will do to existing groceries in town.

Wal-Mart obviously pulls sales away from other businesses, too. If we had our druthers, it would have been to fill the empty Kmart building with a major retailer.

The debate, however, isn’t about whether another Wal-Mart or some other store should or shouldn’t be allowed to do business in Carson City. City government’s role, specifically the Planning Commission, is to make sure a new development that size works well with neighbors, traffic and other quality-of-life issues.

Coincidentally, a Wal-Mart supercenter opening in Reno this week had been denied initially by the city council there on the argument it would cause too many traffic problems. Wal-Mart correctly prevailed in court.

Carson planners are working with Wal-Mart on traffic flow, sound walls, lighting, hours when trucks may be unloaded, landscaping, a bike path and other neighborhood concerns.

That’s the true challenge for the future of North Carson City. As it is transformed by the freeway and accompanying development, it must look and work the way residents want it to look and work for decades to come.