Field Notes: New Battles From Across the Country.
Sprawl is busting out all over! Here's a sampling of seven recent battles reported by Sprawl-Buster correspondents across the country over the past week:
BERLIN, MA: Our small community of 2600 people are under siege. In 1994 by an overwhelming town meeting approval, we voted to rezone a parcel of land on the town border for a New England Development mall with the City of Marlboro. In a development agreement, NED agreed to only 175,000 sf of additional spin off in Marlboro. In ten years, that has turned out to be more like 1,175,000 sf with Target, Best Buy, Borders, Olive Garden, etc. Now, the town is faced with two competing mall proposals for a likely fall or spring town meeting vote for rezoning - one totally in Berlin, 700,000sf in a flood plain near the mall, Route 290 interchange. The other is on the town of Hudson line, 850,000 sf on route 62 at the Rte 495 interchange. The town of Berlin is all private water and sewer. The Planning Board has hired a consultant to oversee the peer review of both projects simultaneously. We've spent all the new mall revenue. We have successfully fought off three other propsals for this land in 25 years. This one scares me because there is a whole lot of new people in town living in the "mc mansions" which are littering our rural community in new subdivisions, which used to be farm land.
BLYTHE, CA. Wal-Mart has just filled out the initial filings to begin their various studies to build a store in town.
BURLINGTON, N.C. Burlington already has a Super Wal-Mart, now 2 more are on the books, Home Depot has already started construction (tearing down a church to do so), and Target, Best Buy etc... are looking for land. When can it end? We do not have the people or land to support this invasion.
LONGVIEW, WA. Lowe's seeks a zone change of 12 acres currently zoned residential to commercial. They reaquested the city change it's comprehensive plan to allow commercial development up to one block from our historic lake area. For a 163,000 s.f. retail store. Longview has a newer Home Depot, Fred Meyer, a Wal-Mart, and under construction, a Winco-Petco.
PLANT CITY, FL: Plant City is a fading rural farming area.... We have a large half-dead strip mall which housed the original Walmart build back in 1985, then in 1992 large tracts of orange groves became the new Walmart, then in 1996 it became a "supercenter."... Now Walmart is back in Plant City with new plans for a supercenter in the North rural area of Plant City. What really gets to me, is that this new proposed Walmart is less than 10 miles from the original Walmart. I haven't heard much about this from the local news, but it is confirmed a woman has sold several areas to Walmart. This is classic sprawl, we already have housing developments popping up everywhere, a new Walmart will only worsen this.
SUWANEE, GA. This community is 30 miles north of Atlanta. There are seven Wal-Mart's within 15 miles of this area. Wal-mart purchased the land in Nov, 2003 for 9.1 million dollars. They do not have any option or contingency transfer of land ownership upon zoning approval etc. The land is zoned CBD,which is commercial without any restrictions. They do not need to do an independent traffic,environmental study etc. The land sits on 52 acres surronded by 3 subdivisions of around 1400 homes. The demographics in this area are as follows: avg home is $250k and avg income is $120k. Currently the proposed site sits on a state road that is two lanes.Wal-mart wants to build well a year ahead of the DOT's plan to widen the road to a 4 lane hwy. We the community of Suwanee in Forsyth County of GA. oppose the 205,000 sq ft super Wal-Mart due to its urban impact it would have on our bedroom community. They would make the 24 hour store a destination for over 10,000 cars per day when the traffic in this area for commuters are burdensome and this big box development would completely intrude on our quality of life for the immediate surrounding homes and for those in a 5 mile radius plus. We are at the mercy of a planning commission meeting being held on Aug.31st to discuss the site plans. The site plans are radically different than those proposed by the land owner in 1998 when he got the land re-zoned. Like most counties they want the tax base and are pro land owner rights. The citzens and taxpayers are at the mercy of the developers and our own county officials looking for tax dollars. (See Newsflash 5/8/04).
WINDSOR, CO. Wal-mart wants to put a super center into our small town, even though we've got 4 already within 20 miles, as well as a couple other regular stores. The city council is trying to get the land re-zoning proposal on to the November ballot so the people can vote for it or against it. My feeling is that they want to get it on the ballot at the urging of the town's small business owners, and citizens that don't want the super center in town. My understanding is that the land is zoned for residential property and if Wal-Mart wants to build there, they'll need to get it re-zoned for commercial use. If there's a proposal on the ballot, we'd have the oppurtunity to vote it down. There is already a commission started here in town trying to combat this issue, and I've seen dozens of "Stop Wal-Mart" signs in yards all around the area. Go to the website http://www.stopwindsorwalmart.com/index.html
What you can do: For contacts in any of these communities, contact email@example.com. To report a battle in your area, use the battle response form at sprawl-busters.com