SNAPSHOTS: A short look at battles across the country, March, 2004
Sprawl-Busters receives communiques from about 2-3 new communities every day who are fighting big box sprawl. Here is a "snapshot" of recent stories submitted from the heartland:
GREENWOOD, IN. The first meeting of the City of Greenwood, Indiana Planning and Zoning Commission concerning a Wal-Mart proposal was held March 8th. No decisions were made. Our group, the opposition, White River Citizens United, hired attorney Lynn Gray from Franklin, Indiana to represent us. We are a group of 12 local neighborhoods with approximately 1,500 residens who are opposed to the building of this new Wal-Mart supercenter. It would be directly behind a funeral home, and alongside a cemetery and day care center, on a 2 lane road. This is in the middle of a recreational area. We have accumulated close to 2,000 sigatures against this plan.
KINGMAN, AZ. The Planning and Zoning board has recommended no zoning change for Wal-Mart to build a bigger store adjacent to a smaller Wal-Mart. The City Council, however, voted 3-2 in favor of the new store. Because the Council needed a supermajority vote on this issue, the rezoning did not pass. Smith's food,which sits next to the site, has filed a lawsuit against the rezoning also. A recall effort has started against the two Council members who voted against Wal-Mart. That prompted a recall effort against the 3 members who voted for the zone change. The city itself is proposing to change the zoning on another parcel of land adjacent to the original land in order to get around the Smith food lawsuit. Wal-Mart then put the issue on the ballot, and rezoning passed with just a 35% voter turnout. The battle goes on.
NASHUA, NH. Residents are opposing Wal-Mart's request to fill in more than 1 acre of wetlands at a site in Nashua. A pond and stream will have to be filled to build their store. Ponds at the front of the site are a diverted stream that was altered back in the 1980s to allow earlier development on this very wet parcel. Wal-Mart could avoid the wetlands by scaling down its project, but so far has refused to do so.
PALM SPRINGS, CA. On March 24th, residents of a Wal-Mart supercenter will gather at Palm Springs City Hall to voice their opposition to Wal-Mart. The area chapter of the National Organization for Women is planning a protest on March 20th against Wal-Mart practices against its own workers. Two more stores are planned for Palm Springs and Palm Desert. For more information, go to psnow.org.
PHOENIX, AZ. Grocery chain Albertson's has proposed to tear down 21 homes and build a 53,000 s.f. store in a very quaint neighborhood. There is a Safeway food store one-third of a mile away. The residents are not opposed to a smaller store, but we flooded the Phoenix Planning Commission recently. Albertson's lost their first vote before that commission.
RARITAN, N.J. Wal-Mart and Lowe's have applications before the Raritan Planning Board to locate on property owned by the head of the Raritan Republican party. This has been a one-party town for about 30 years. The land the big chains want is an historic site listed on a state endangered list. The battle has just been engaged.
RED LION, PA. Wal-Mart wants to build on a site adjacent to a residential development. We live in an area that is rural along a two lane road that is one of the two main roads used for commuting by large numbers of people trying to get to and from work. It gets heavily congested at peak times, and is not too bad during the day. Wal-Mart says we can expect 9,000 extra cars per day. We feel this would be overwhelming. There is already a Wal-Mart in York, Pennsylvania, which is only about 5 miles away. The first township meeting on this project is March 24th.
SALINA, NY: In December, 2002, our community got wind of a Wal-Mart supercenter being built on the edge of our village of Liverpool. Our group is now fighting this battle in the town of Salina, New York. Recently, Wal-Mart sent out a post card in our town asking for support for their superstore. They then hosted a "letter writing" party at an area hotel for those who sent back the postcards in support. The town clerk's office has received 70 postcards. Our group, LiverpoolFIRST, is beginning a campaign to get in letters also. We have over 1,000 members now. There are two other Wal-Mart supercenters planned in the nearby communities of Cicero and Camillus. All of our towns are suburbs of Syracuse, New York. Last November, Wal-Mart submitted an environmental impact report to Salina. In January, the town's Planning Board ruled it incomplete, with 10 pages of information to complete. We don't expect Wal-Mart to be done with that additional information until the spring.
WESTFIELD, IN. Besides Greenwood, Indiana, Wal-Mart wants to build a new supercenter and close an older store just a mile south of the proposed location. The new location would be on US 31 and 161st street, where there are woods currently, and single family housing to the north. The town Council had its first hearing on March 8th. A public meeting will be held in April or May. The majority of people do not want the Wal-Mart there. The Town Council in the past has favored big business.
What you can do: For more information about any of these battles, contact firstname.lastname@example.org