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2003-09-28
Mebane, NC. Neighbors Sue Town Over Wal-Mart Rezoning.

Residents from the town of Mebane, North Carolina have filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart in Alamance County Superior Court. Accoridng to the Durham Herald-Sun newspaper, the proposed Wal-Mart supercenter would be located just a few hundred feet from their homes. The four plaintiffs charge that the Mebane City Council's vote to rezone 55+ acres of land was unlawful, because the city failed to adhere to its own procedures. The suit also claims that the shopping center is not a permitted use in the B-2 zoning district, and that the rezoning was inconsistent with the town's land development plan. A new group, Mebane Citizen's Voice, has organized opposition to the plan. "We didn't see the process as fair," Daniel Ahern, a member of the Mebane Citizens Voice, told the Herald-Sun. "We felt like it was a done deal. It was a unilateral decision of City Council, ultimately." Ahern says the Council did not address quality of life issues, or impact on property values. The property owners also allege in the lawsuit that the proposed Wal-Mart store will reduce their property values and impact their quality of life. The developers, Commonwealth-Mebane Partners, are from Knoxville, Tennessee. The Wal-Mart supercenter would be 172,000 s.f., along with a 94,000 s.f. home improvement center. Mebane Mayor Glendel Stephenson defends the town process as "absolutely fair". "All those questions about traffic and quality of life were addressed," the Mayor said. "The developer had a traffic engineer and an environmental engineer and a group of folks and we had our engineer. Everything asked was answered." The citizens group hopes their lawsuit will at least force the town to provide more information to homeowners. "I'm happy for them to come back and meet the standards of the law," Ahern told the newspaper. "Explain to the local property owners what impact the Wal-Mart will have on their property values and right now, they just don't have that information."



What you can do: Nobody ever said the zoning process was "fair". In fact, it is stacked in the developer's favor. The Mayor of Mebane is a typical public official. He sees the developer walk into the hearing room with a couple of engineers and his eyes glaze over. The citizens then have to come up with their own experts to challenge the developer's spin. It's absolutely unfair, and most town officials go along for the ride.










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

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