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2004-09-07
Gunnison, CO. City Enacts Six Month Moratorium On Big Boxes

All it took was the shadow of a 150,000 s.f. Wal-Mart to kick the small town of Gunnison, Colorado into high gear. The Denver Post reports this week that the city has agreed to a six month moratorium on big box developments. City officials were trying to slow down what the Post called "a rash of anti-big-box actions by a citizenry that hasn't been so stirred up since the Hells Angels announced plans to hold their annual business meeting in Gunnison in the summer of 2002." The city's director of the Gunnison Main Street Association resigned in the face of big box arrivals, and a recall petition was initiated against three Gunnison City Council members. Gunnison only has 5,200 residents, but they were riled up and talking about holding marches and engaging in civil disobedience to keep Wal-Mart out of town. away. The Gunnison Country Times has been inundated with letters to the editor, and residents packed a number of town meetings on the subject. So Mayor Stu Ferguson stepped in to calm down the growing tensions. "Over the next six months, the purpose of the moratorium is not to sit and wait and wonder," he told the Post. City officials are researching the impact of big box stores in other communities, and zoning codes in other towns. Ironically, the city already has a Wal-Mart discount store for about a decade and a half on the road between Gunnison and Crested Butte. That existing store would become another "empty box syndrome" if a new supercenter were built further down the road. One Gunnison resident told the Denver Post, "We don't want to lose our character and become Everytown, USA."

What you can do: City officials in Gunnison should contact their colleagues in Mission, Kansas and imitate the new ordinances in Mission that place a limit on the size of retail stores, and impose new design criteria over parking location and parking lots. Gunnison can very cleanly and simply solve its problems with one sentence: "Retail stores shall not exceed 50,000 s.f. in gross floor space." It shouldn't take them six months to sit and wonder.










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

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