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2005-09-17
Monroeville, PA. Citizens Defeat Another Wal-Mart

Sprawl-Busters first heard from citizens in Monroeville, Pennsylvania back in June of 2005. They were organizing to fend off a Wal-Mart supercenter proposal. Three months later, the group has accomplished its purpose. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported yesterday that the Monroeville City Council voted to reject Wal-Mart. On a vote close to midnight, the Council voted 5-2 against Wal-Mart's plans. The retailer was seeking to rezone 21.6 acres of land from industrial to commercial use, so it could build a 203,818 s.f. store on the border with the town of Pitcairn. Wal-Mart patched together a series of lots to create enough room for the huge store. The Council's vote overturned a planning commission vote, which had narrowly recommended the plan on a 3-2 vote. The Walnut Capital Development Corp., which was pushing the Wal-Mart, told the newspaper that Wal-Mart has been trying to build a store in Monroeville for 10 years. The developer started offering money to the town when it needed to bolster its support: a promise of $35,000 to Pitcairn for a comprehensive plan, $50,000 for a transportation improvement district , $25,000 each to Pitcairn and Monroeville for fire and ambulance services. Wal-Mart offered to build a parking lot, restrooms and a concession stand at the ball fields located next to the store, and give Pitcairn an electronic message board for community announcements. Wal-Mart told local officials that their store would generate half a million dollars annually in tax revenue -- a figure that is a gross number, not real net impact figure. In the end, all these offerings weren't enough to sway the City Council, which ended Wal-Mart's quest -- unless they take the city to court. But the city is under no obligation to rezone land for anyone.

What you can do: The newspaper described opponents as a "loose coalition of neighbors, merchants and Pitcairn public officials." They turned out for four council hearings, and flooded council members with calls, and personal visits. They spoke out about the impact of this project on Pitcairn's downtown, and the safety of children playing on the ball fields, about nearby wetlands, and traffic on the two lane Route 130. One councilman from Pitcairn asked his colleagues from Monroevilloe not to wipe out the good Monroeville officials have done for Pitcairn over the years. Public outcry against this plan clearly spoke louder than the developer's money. Another Wal-Mart crashes and burns. For earlier stories, search by "Monroeville."










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

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