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2005-09-09
Elyria, Lorain, Wellington, OH. Wal-Mart Goes After Neighbors Again

Sometimes Wal-Marts show up in clusters, making residents feel like they are battling a swarm of locusts. Residents in three neighboring Ohio towns are all confronting the same oversized projects. In Elyria, Ohio, citizens have been fighting off Wal-Mart in their neighborhood, with some success. But as will be seen in this story received by Sprawl-Busters this week, the giant retailer has homeowners working overtime to stop them: "I live in Elyria, Ohio in Lorain county. Wal-Mart is trying to get approval for the second store in our city. It would be a 24 hour Super Wal-Mart with a gas station. It is next to a residential community of 42 houses, 60 cluster homes and Apartments. We have already fought and won a battle to stop Wal-Mart from connecting our residential streets to the commercial development. That battle was fought last summer. They are now trying for approval again without the roads cutting through our development. However, we are having trouble getting appropriate barriers to block the sound and light from the resident's backyards, who have a great view of the massive building, parking lot and gas station. We are also very concerned about the 24-hour schedule which will be a safety issue for all the residents of the adjacent neighborhood. At this time Wal-Mart is fighting to get approval on two other buildings in surrounding communities: One in Lorain City and one in Wellington. Both of these sites are within a 20 minute drive of the Wal-Mart proposed for our neighborhood We also have a wetland issue. We forced an Ohio EPA meeting to discuss their permit to destroy the wetlands. At this time, no decision has been made by the EPA. It could still take weeks according to the EPA. But the Mayor of our city has gone ahead with trying for approval of the building. Fortunately, we found out about the meeting the very morning of the meeting, and made them table their decision. We have many questions about storm run-off and the wet, lowland area on which the huge building will be built. We brought up many of the questions at the meeting and we think we are making them take a second look at their plans. Unfortunately, we only have 2 weeks to prepare and round up the troops. The Mayor of Elyria is claiming this Wal-Mart will be one of the nicest looking in the country. However, he is greatly ignoring us on our buffers, noise, lights, and delivery restrictions. Plus the traffic issue is a whole other problem to deal with. Amazing that he can get the building to look so 'nice' but he can't get the developer, Forest City, to put up our requested 10 foot buffers on mounds with trees to protect the adjacent neighborhood."

What you can do: Developers always tell residents that their Wal-Mart will be "special", the nicest one in the state, etc. It's all skin-deep cosmetics. There is no such thing as a "buffer" for a Wal-Mart supercenter. You can put up berms, fences, walls -- whatever -- but the huge bulk of the store, its noise, its lights, are just an incompatible neighbor to residentially zoned land. Communities should insist that there be a "transition zone" between any large scale commercial projects, and residential uses. One way to do that is to require that any commercial land that abuts residential land on any side have a scale limit, say 45,000 s.f (a little larger than an acre) on any building. Stormwater runoff is a very serious concern with Wal-Mart, since the company has been hauled into court by federal and state environmental officials many times in the past. To see those stories, search Newsflash by "environmental."










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

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