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2005-07-02
St. Petersberg, FL. Wal-Mart Appeals Rejection To Court

What you can't get by regulation, get by litigation. That seems to be Wal-Mart's philosophy these days, a far cry from Mr. Sam's dictum that if a community doesn't want you, Wal-Mart won't go in a "create a fuss." The St. Petersberg, Florida Environmental Development Commission voted 5-2 in June to reject Wal-Mart proposal to build a 150,000 s.f. supercenter on 27 acres along Gandy Boulevard, so the company decided to create a legal fuss. Their appeal now goes to the St. Petersberg City Council, where a supermajority of 6 out of 8 members must vote to overrule the EDC's decision. It will take three votes to block Wal-Mart. The store has been opposed by hundreds of residents, but Wal-Mart doesn't seem to see or hear them. "We need to move forward and get this in front of the City Council," a Wal-Mart spokesman (they call them "community affairs managers") told the St. Pete's Times. "I don't think emotion will play a part - this is a decision based on what the law is." Residents say the store will encroach upon an important wetland area, and will generate unreasonable traffic for the area. "I feel strongly the EDC made the correct decision in this case," said an attorney for the neighborhood. "We will be fully prepared for an appeal."

What you can do: For similar stories, search Newsflash by "St. Petersberg" or "Florida." Local city boards must be careful to make decisions based on findings of facts presented during public hearings. Citizen groups must likewise be careful to present the best expert testimony they can. If these things are done, courts will not substitute their judgement for that of local officials interpreting their own local ordinances. Wal-Mart has to show this decision was arbitrary and capricious. But sometimes just the threat of litigation scares City Councils, because of the cost, not of the outcome.










 
 
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