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2004-10-15
Port Clinton, OH. Wal-Mart Plans To Expand, Leave Dead Store Behind

Wal-Mart stores currently has nearly 1 million square feet of available buildings in the state of Ohio in a dozen communities. Port Clinton, Ohio could soon join that list. The giant retailer wants to shut down its existing 71,000 s.f. discount store in Port Clinton, and move to a 24 acre tract of land to build a 199,189 s.f. supercenter near the intersection of routes 163 and 53. Despite the fact that Wal-Mart is renting its current store until the year 2017, the company is ready to move out, and has told the community it will not allow a competitor like Target to re-use the space. "No one is more motivated to fill that than us," a Wal-Mart spokesman told the News Herald newspaper. But Wal-Mart's musical chairs in Port Clinton have also motivated a grassroots group to form against the expansion. Citizens for Responsible Development has formed to encourage Port Clinton officials to adopt a new zoning amendment that makes large scale stores a conditional use, and requires big projects to undergo an economic impact and environmental study, a traffic study, and other site plan related research. The CRD told officials that someone opening up a bed and breakfast has to jump through more hoops than a Wal-Mart supercenter. In an open letter to the Port Clinton community, the CRD said its goal is to "maintain smart and responsible growth within our area to preserve the character of this great community." CRD says "the current situation regarding Wal-Mart and their plans to move to a new supercenter has caused concerns as to how we deal with growth in our area...We hope to create zoning recommendations designed to protect the character of our area." The group says the community cannot possibly make informed decisions currently without any of these important studies being required. Wal-Mart claims it already has a zoning permit for a new store. "We are essentially approved to build this thing," a Wal-Mart spokesman said. But the retailer apparently does not even own the land in question, and lawyers for CRD say the town still has time to modify its ordinance to require a conditional use permit for large scale projects. At a recent public hearing, one resident told Wal-Mart, "I think what you're doing for us is overkill for our county."

What you can do: Wal-Mart has told officials that it hopes to fill 70% of its empty stores this year, which is downright silly, considering that it continually is adding new stores, like the existing Port Clinton white elephant, to its list. "Wal-Mart seems to be trying a little harder to fill their empty buildings," one reporter wrote in a Port Clinton newspaper. Given the large number of "dark stores" still on the market today, it looks like Wal-Mart is going to have to try harder still to move these buildings. The CRD has made it clear that Wal-Mart's switch in Port Clinton is a frivolous move by a large retailers to gain an even larger share of the local market, but has nothing to do with Port Clinton's retail needs. CRD ran a full page ad in The Beacon newspaper recently that concluded, "We are vehemently opposed to Wal-Mart abandoning another building like they did in Fremont, Ohio, and so many other small towns across the U.S." The ad features a large photo of the empty Wal-Mart in Fremont, featuring a large sign over the entrance, "Building For Rent." To contact the CRD, call their hotline at 419-732-3373, or email cfrd419@yahoo.com










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

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