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2004-10-22
Rio Rancho, NM. Residents Want Wal-Mart Off the Rancho.

Citizens in the small community of Rio Rancho, New Mexico have joined the nationwide movement to push Wal-Mart out of their community. Here's a report directly from the Ranch: "Wal-Mart's invading my neighborhood...my city government has been "paving the way" for Wal-Mart to build their store. The site of the proposed 24 hour Wal-Mart supercenter is at the northwest corner of the intersection of Southern and Unser Boulevards in Rio Rancho, behind an existing Walgreens. It will be the first Wal-Mart store in Rio Rancho. The lot is unfortunately zoned C-1 commercial and encompasses, I believe, about 23 acres. It is located directly south and adjacent to my neighborhood, Southern Park. This site is teeming with wildlife, such as New Mexico's State bird, the roadrunner, and doves, quail, owls, rabbits, coyotes, and skunks to name a few species. The parcel is unique in that it is enclosed by development. There is not any undeveloped land adjacent to it for wildlife migration in the event of development...My community appears to be mesmerized by the Wal-Mart mantra, "Always low prices." Southern Park is a middle-class neighborhood and we don't have an association; however, we have had two community meetings with our City Council representative, Patty Thomas, and reps from Wal-Mart: a corporate community affairs manager from Houston, Kimberly Randle, an architect, and the "engineer" in charge of construction, Ron Bohannan. These two community meetings were organized by my neighbor, Dr. Irene Blea. At the meetings the message from the powers that be was clear: this store is going to happen and there's nothing you can do about it. We also learned that in the near future Wal-Mart plans to build a total of three stores in Rio Rancho. The other two proposed sites would not be disclosed. In addition to my concern about wildlife, my neighbors and I are concerned about the value of our properties dropping, the overall decline in our quality of life, the loss of our views of the Rio Grande Valley, increased air pollution, trash, crime, excessive lighting, and noise. For instance, the loading dock of this proposed 24 hour store will be within 90 feet, yes 90 feet (!), of the property line of one of my neighbor's homes. Wal-Mart has said that they plan to sink the mega-structure and parking lot lights below the neighborhood fence line to retain the views, but how do I know they'll do what they say? And what a hideous view that will be -- the roof of a warehouse and a parking lot. They also have not disclosed the size of the sign or signs they intend to erect at this location. Per household per-capita income in my state is very low, one of the lowest amounts in the country, and Wal-Mart is the number one private employer in New Mexico. Many people in Rio Rancho are excited about the 450 jobs Wal-Mart says this store will bring. Others in Rio Rancho are happy about the convenience factor, as they will no longer have to drive three and half miles(distance from the proposed site) into Albuquerque to shop at the closest Wal-Mart. The City Council emphasizes the gross receipts tax revenue that the city will receive, as our Wal-Mart dollars will stay in Rio Rancho and not go to Albuquerque. Even the local paper, The Rio Rancho Observer, featured an editorial titled "Welcome Wal-Mart" on Sunday, October 9, 2004.

What you can do: Residents in nearby Tijeras, New Mexico also fought a Wal-Mart -- and won. They also were told that everything was a 'done deal'. They also were misled about the jobs and tax revenues a Wal-Mart promises. This area is already overbuilt with big box retail. People in small New Mexico towns can survive with a Wal-Mart 3.5 miles away. This kind of location, hard by residential properties, is simply inappropriate. Wal-Mart supercenters are not compatible with residential properties. It not only decreases residential values, but makes the nearby quality of life a daily nightmare. They will have to rename the town Rancho Wal-Mart if this out of scale project is approved. When small towns have large tracts of commerical land with no size caps, they are inviting land use disaster. The fact is, there is no market need for another Wal-Mart supercenter, and the location of this story near existing residential property is simply wrong. It is doubtful that this plan is consistent with the community's land use Master Plan. For local contacts in Rio Rancho, email: info@sprawl-busters.com










 
 
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