Walmart may be the world’s largest leading retailer, but that doesn’t give you access to water in Augusta.
Jeff Best of Law Kingdon Architecture in Wichita asked the council to consider special provisions to help Walmart get a lawn and landscaping established on its new development in southwest Augusta. The company is building a new supercenter and it has three acres of grass and landscape area that would need to be “watered in” in order to help the root systems develop.
Best said the company had already changed its plans to include Bermuda grass rather than fescue. He said about a quarter of the landscape plants have been switched out to include more drought-resistant varieties. Best estimated that for a short time, the company might need a significantly more than the 14 hours per week the city’s policy allows.
“It is a big site,” Best said. “It will take a lot of water.”
Even though most on the council seemed to be inclined to help the company achieve its design plans because of the overall positive impact the new construction will have on the city’s appearance as visitors enter from the west, there was no one on the council who wanted to make a motion to expand the amount of water the company was allowed to use.
“I am hesitant to make additional accommodations,” said Councilor Matt Childers. “Because we didn’t for the schools and the drought may actually be worsening.”
Councilor Sue Jones even recommended the company consider hardscaping like that used in New Mexico and Arizona where water is less plentiful.
Best said the company would consider all options but it was late in the game to completely change plans.
City Manager Bill Keefer also pointed out that significant changes might create an issue with the drainage plan the company created using the current landscape plan.
Best said if the council was willing, the company may consider postponing planting the larger landscape plants in order to avoid dry plants trying to survive the hot summer months.
The consensus of the council was to approve a delay that would take pressure off of the water system and allow Walmart to stick to their current landscape plan.