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2005-07-27
Spring, PA. Planners Reject Wal-Mart Supercenter--For Now.

Township Planners in Spring, Pennsylvania took a little spring out of Wal-Mart's step this week when they voted against a conditional use permit for a supercenter. The final decision, however, rests with the township supervisors. The parcel Wal-Mart wants is 30 acres of land -- but it happens to be in a planned office business zone, where shopping centers are allowed by conditional use only. According to the Reading Eagle newspaper, more than 100 people packed into a public hearing this week, warning the Planning Commission that the shopping center would adversely impact traffic, safety, property values and storm-water runoff. "This is going to bring tremendous crime to our area," said township resident Susan Newton. The planners voted 5-0 to recommend the supervisors reject the conditional use because no traffic study was provided, and the applicant didn't explain the management agreement for the businesses in the shopping center. The developer and Wal-Mart are now expected to conduct their own traffic study, which will obviously conclude that the plan will make traffic flow better, not worse. That's what all developers' studies conclude. The township should require Wal-Mart to put up the money for a real traffic study, and let the town select an independent contractor who has not done business for Wal-Mart.


What you can do: Even though the planners recommended a no vote, they retained the right to reconsider the request if the companies correct the deficiencies or submit more information. When Wal-Mart returns with their glowing traffic report, watch for opinions to turn. This is all part of the posturing that goes on at the local level. The town supervisors have the final say, and unless the pressure on them from citizens keeps building, they are likely to be satisfied by the self-serving reports submitted by the developer. Citizens would do well to carefully review again the Conditional Use criteria before the hearing, and use those criteria to make their case, because granting of a conditional permit is not a right of any developer.










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

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