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2004-09-20
Hemet, CA. Wal-Mart's "Gift" To Neighbors: Raw Sewage.

This story stinks, literally. Giant retail stores make lousy neighbors. Local officials can talk all they want about buffers, and berms and setbacks, but the truth is, huge commercial land uses are incompatible with residential developments. When, as in the case of Hemet, California, superstores abut homes, the result is always a land use nightmare. A Wal-Mart supercenter may look fine in an architect's drawing, where it is just a mass of blue lines -- but when these monsters are built and running, they prove to be the worst thing that could happen to a residential community. Consider this story from the city of Hemet, where local residents thought they had put up with just about everything from Wal-Mart, until they were actually "dumped on" by the giant retailer. Here's the latest report from the Hemet neighbors: "Imagine coming home after dropping your husband off at the military base he is stationed at, driving into the garage of your new home of one month, you push open the door and the retched stench of raw sewage belts you in the face. As you frantically search to locate the offensive source you open bathroom doors and see sinks, tubs and toilets bubbling with the murky brew. This is precisely what happened to a neighbor of the Super Wal-Mart being built not 50 feet from homes in Hemet, California. After 7 hours of no relief a sewer camera was sent into the drain to locate the problem and five feet down and 45 feet over to the main line was the answer to the quandry. The Super Center's Commercial pile lines were connected to the residential main sewage lines, inadequately, causing noxious stenches and plumbing problems in residents' homes adjacent to the monstrous building. It seems the pipes were not aligned and cement to seal the lines were in fact blocking the opening causing a back up of neighbor's sewage into the homes at the lower elevation of the street. A promise of sewage vacuums in the early Saturday morning were not surprisingly a no show. Try 6:45 PM. Nonexistent on Sunday. This and other offenses, none measuring the baptism of neighbor's unmentionables, are imposed on the families living in this area. Late night workers with flood lights, wet saws and hammers were foreseen as problems. Empty promises of compliance of noise and work ordinances are scoffed away by the developer, construction company and independent contractors alike. Even after reminding the Super Center of the families with babies and elementary age school children directly behind their dirty work, it continues. Not even allowing these residents to have Sunday free from noise and construction. They continue to break ordinances and work early Sunday. It is appalling. And what of the neighbors who continue to fight? We speak up, email and call those responsible for the mess that once was our neighborhood. Only to be ignored. It seems to give them pleasure to continue this offense. They smirk as the neighbors outline their concerns. In no time the noise of the traffic from the expected 2000+ shoppers per week will drown out the noise of the construction. Giving way to a new batch of concerns previously highlighted in public forums and city council meetings. We wonder if the current mess will be cleaned up by then?"

What you can do: You will not see this story of Hemet on any of the "feel-good" TV ads that Wal-Mart runs. This company spends millions of dollars every week promoting its image as a good neighbor, and upstanding corporate citizen. But the neighbors in Hemet know the truth. These people, most of them military families, helping to protect our country, are not being protected from damages by Wal-Mart. Like other communities I have written about in "The Case Against Wal-Mart," the homeowners have entered a twilight zone of life with the superproblems of superstores. The next time you see or hear an ad about how Wal-Mart gives back to the community, remember what Wal-Mart "gave back" to the residents of Hemet. Their own sewage.










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

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