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2003-03-16
Wadsworth, OH. Wal-Mart Tries Litigation to get what Regulation won't produce.

Residents in Wadsworth, Ohio say the world's richest retailer wants to park its superstore where the parking isn't sufficient. Wal-Mart is trying to build a 200,000 s.f. superstore in the Great Oaks area of Wadsworth, but apparently doesn't have enough room for parking. When the company came before the Zoning Board, the Wal-Mart request for a variance to reduce the required number of parking spaces. Wadsworth's code requires 5.5 spaces per 1000 square feet of leasable space. The Heritage Development Company asked the city to allow it to use residentially zoned land ( homes they want to buy out ) in the Great Oaks area for parking. Both the Planning Commission and the Zoning Appeals both turned them down. "So how did the friendly down-home folks respond?" writes one resident. " No, they didnít go back to the drawing board like any other business or homeowner normally would and try to fit in with what the town wants. They filed a lawsuit -- and not just against the board as a whole but against the boards individual members (hoping to bring arm twisting pressure) against City government on their other requests. Heritage asked the Board of Zoning Appeals to reduce the parking requirement to 4.7 spaces per 1000 square feet. The board turned that down as well. That same night a member of the board made a motion to reduce requirement to five spaces per 1000 Sq ft. That ended in a tie vote which defeated the motion. Since one board member was absent at that meeting and the vote was a tie. Another vote on the parking may change if all of the members are Present...Heritage is expected to be on the Board of Zoning Appeals agenda this Monday, March 17, with a request to scale back to five spaces per 1000 cubic feet. Meanwhile, the City Council's finance and economic development committees are discussing a plan that may be used to fund some road improvements in the area from taxes generated by the project. (TIF) It is expected to exceed over $5 million in road improvements alone. This would allow Heritage and Wal-Mart and other large corporations to build their empire on a foundation of public tax breaks, which are then used to put other taxpaying businesses out of work. Why does Wal-Mart, the largest company in the world, need this kind of help to pave over open space with new roads, sewers, lighting and other public infrastructure that will make their development possible?"

What you can do: Suing town board members individually is a cute intimidation tactic. Butd the fact is, communities do not have to grant variances just because a developer's preferred prototype is too big for the lot. And for more information on the questionable value of using Tax Incremental Financing for big box retail projects, search this database by "Policy Matters Ohio" for their report. For local contacts in Wadsworth, who don't want Wal-Mart to park their store in Great Oaks, contact info@sprawl-busters.com










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

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