SYRACUSE — Last time Wal-Mart officials came to Davis County, police had to escort them away from angry residents.

This past week was a different story.

While one person stood with a sign of protest, hundreds gathered Thursday at the Syracuse city offices to review plans and give comment about a SuperCenter planned for the city center.

Some were upset at city leaders, claiming they circumvented public process. Others were slightly skeptical but pleased about the tax revenue Wal-Mart will bring.

"The city needs the tax revenue, and no one wants their property tax to increase," said Aimee Barber, who lives a quarter-mile from the proposed development. "I just wish there was a way we could have known about this beforehand. This is like, 'Here you go.' "

Councilman Wally Peterson said negotiations are not finished. The public will have a say when plans are officially presented to the city.

"We are listening, and this tonight is an educational meeting," he said. "We trying to give as much information as we can. It's not a done deal yet until it comes before the Planning Commission."

Mayor Fred Panucci said he isn't expecting much of a challenge from residents. The site, located at the northwest corner of 1700 South and 2000 West, has been zoned commercial for at least 15 years.

In Centerville, a commercial zone was changed slightly to help accommodate a proposed Wal-Mart development. A citizens' group filed suit against the city in March, seeking to overturn a ruling by the city Board of Adjustments, which declined to remand portions of a conditional-use permit granted to the retailer.

"Most of what I have heard is positive," said Panucci.

"I get stopped constantly as I'm in other stores and people ask, 'When is it coming?' "

But Dave Berryman and Brad Jacobs weren't as pleased. Berryman was outside the meeting, protesting with a sign that called for the jobs of elected officials.

"We don't want Wal-Mart. I believe the majority of people don't want Wal-Mart," he said. "These guys (the elected officials) are letting us down. We feel they're trying to bamboozle us."

Added Jacobs: "I just want it left a field because Syracuse is growing so fast, there should be some farmland."

But plans to create a citizens' group and actively oppose the project aren't likely. The retail giant is too big to fight, residents say.

"It feels to me now like there's nothing we can do," said Barber. "If I did do something, I don't feel like it would make a difference."

While Wal-Mart has stores in Layton, Clinton and Riverdale, Syracuse officials hope to make the store an anchor for a centralized city center development.


E-mail: nwarburton@desnews.com