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2002-11-17
Maplewood, MO. Wal-Mart developer to tear down 200 homes for retail project.

Mayor Mark Langston is "really pleased" that a Wal-Mart and Sam's club were given the green light by voters in Maplewood, Missouri. (See November 11, 2002 Newsflash). Now the Mayor will preside over an incredible outcome: the developer, THF, will begin bulldozing an entire neighborhood of 150 homes! The Mayor's cavalier response in the St. Louis Post Dispatch was: "We hate to lose these folks, but they're getting a good price for their homes." It was the Mayor's analysis that Maplewood had only two choices: raise revenues from retail sales, or raise property taxes. "We decided not to raise property taxes," the Mayor painfully admitted, " but unfortunately we had to get rid of 150 homes. They're not houses - they're homes. We're going to miss those families. That's the bitter part of the pill." But for the Mayor, it all comes down to dollars and cents: "But we're all pretty happy that they're being compensated well." The Mayor was a big supporter of the killing of the West Bruno Avenue neighborhood. The Mayor complained that falling revenues in town were due to the $400,000 in sales tax lost when Kmart shut its doors three years ago (from competition due to you-know-who). The Mayor doesn't seem to have a clue that he is sacrificing 150 families for Wal-Mart, the very company that already caused the town to lose revenue and cut several town workers. "I'm glad we're not raising taxes," Langston said. "I think that's great." The Mayor described the loss of 150 families as " a sacrifice of the few for the many here." Last August a citizen's group called Save Our Homes, Save Our Neighborhood collected signatures to force the matter to the ballot, but they were not prepared for the huge amount of money Wal-Mart spent to win votes on November 5th. After the vote, Ron Mink, one of the Save Our Homes organizers said: "The neighborhood that I live in, the home that I occupy, will forever be changed. It's with a great sadness that all of us will now have to face a future of finding new homes." There are still some homeowners who are refusing to sign contracts to sell to THF Realty. If they hold out, the town will then condemn their homes and give them a fair market price. The businesses in the area have so far refused to sell out to THF. Mayor Langston made it clear the next move is his: "If we need to blight them and move them on with a fair price, that's what we'll do." About one week after the election, TFH accounced that it planned to expand its retail empire beyond just the Wal-Mart and Sam's Club, to open a Lowe's home improvement store, requiring razing another 52 homes in a residential area, bringing the total homes destroyed up to more than 200. Further, THF also wants state taxpayers to give him corporate welfare to tear down the homes, in the form of Tax Incremental Financing (TIF). Nice work if you can get it.

What you can do: They say that to the victor belongs the spoils. In Maplewood, there will be lots of spoils to rummage through. It is incedible that any town would offer up 200 homes and families on the alter of big box sales tax. And where were the rest of the homeowners of Maplewood, who could be next to lose their homes? Just so that a Wal-Mart or a Lowe's could get more market share. When will people like Mayor Langston begin to ask why Kmart closed their store in the first place? In Maplewood, they have destroyed an entire community to pave the way for Wal-Mart. What a pathetic town to live in -- trapped by their own failure to "think outside of the box." Imagine for a minute someone approaching Helen Walton, and telling her that her home had to be torn down to make way for Wal-Mart store number 3,158? What do Wal-Mart stockholders think about the company condoning the condemnation of 200 homes? Where is the ethics of this corporate citizen? Must be the price you pay to sacrifice the "few for the many." For local contacts in Maplewood, contact info@sprawl-busters.com. Search this page by the word "Maplewood" for earlier stories.










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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