Councilwoman Donna Frye said in an interview this morning that she will not vote to override Mayor Jerry Sanders’ veto of the big-box grocery store ban, a move that would likely kill the restriction if the other council members maintain their positions on the contentious issue.

“I haven’t changed my mind about superstores, I’ve changed my mind about how to do it,” Frye said.

Last month, Frye and four other council members voted for the rule, which bans stores that are at least 90,000 square feet in size from using more than 10 percent of their space for grocery sales. The same five votes would be needed during today’s veto hearing to uphold the rule. The council is expected to vote this afternoon.

Wal-Mart has made hints that it would ask voters to overturn the ban in 2008 if the council didn’t side with Sanders today. Frye said “I have my doubts” that Wal-Mart could be defeated at the ballot box, adding that she wanted to explore other ways to restrict big-box grocers, known as “superstores.”

She said the city could instead subject superstore developers to a higher level of public review on a project-by-project basis and require that the economic impact of the behemoth grocers be studied before they are allowed to open shop. She said the proposal is similar to the city of Los Angeles’ rules for superstores.

“It’s the superior alternative because I think I can get everyone else on the council to support it and it will stop the negative campaign being waged right now,” Frye said.

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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