Wal-Mart project center of Heights meeting

HOUSTON "Together with the police department, we've gone so far to make it a nice place to live," one Heights resident said. "I would hate to see us going backwards."

Heights residents and business owners on Tuesday night attended a meeting of the city's public safety committee. The residents told city council members and the Houston Police Department that they fear a Wal-Mart in their neighborhood would bring an increase in crime and want the city to stop the project.

"One of the challenges that we have as the city is that, obviously as a private developer, they can work with whoever they want to work on," Houston City Councilman Ed Gonzalez said.

"The city needs to face another lawsuit against Wal-Mart," Heights resident Jeff Jackson said. "Use the driveway ordinance, use whatever ordinance you can, but the people in the Heights don't want this."

Up until Tuesday, Heights resident had focused their argument on the traffic problems a Wal-Mart would bring, but residents have since turned their attention to crime statistics.

Wal-Mart opponents created YouTube videos resembling Wal-Mart ads to talk about traffic and crime problems.

"Did you know, at one store in this city alone in one year there's been over 1,100 police incidents?" one person said in one of the YouTube videos. "That's three calls a day. Wow"

In response to the videos, the company told us:

"The safety and security of our customers and our associates is a priority for Wal-Mart. Therefore, we assess the needs of our stores individually and incorporate security measures that fit each store. We partner closely with law enforcement agencies in every community to continually review our safety measures and make them even more effective. This might include adding more security cameras or increasing parking lot lighting and sometimes adding or increasing in-store security and parking lot patrols, where appropriate."

"I don't know what they mean, I guess just working with local police to come up with something to kinda of tailor to a community," Gonzalez said.

One Heights resident who works as an attorney says the Wal-Mart might have received tax breaks and questions the timing of road improvements near the proposed Wal-Mart site. The attorney said he will make it his personal mission to find out "who greased the wheels at TxDOT and at the city to make this happen."

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