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2005-12-02
Gresham, OR. Honey, I Shrunk The Store

Stopping Wal-Mart can sometimes seem like trying to bottle smoke. In the case of Gresham, Oregon, the citizens group Gresham First slam-dunked the retailer twice -- once at the local level, and once before a Hearings Officer. The group was waiting to see if Wal-Mart would file a second appeal with the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). Instead, Gresham First reports that Wal-Mart has decided on another course of action. Here's their report: "Yesterday we learned that Wal-Mart has not filed an appeal to LUBA, but have instead re-submitted their application with plans for a Super-Center with a smaller footprint, down from 210,000 SF to 112,000 SF. Both the City Planner and Hearings Officer denied the original Super-Center plans based on traffic and safety impacts. Trips generated by a smaller footprint store will not necessarily be reduced, and may even be a greater draw with increased parking and access. A variety of factors motivated members of the community to oppose the development of a Super-Center at 181st & Powell, and our group will continue our mission of promoting quality development. A meeting will be planned in the coming weeks as we learn more about Wal-Mart's specific plans and the process for re-submittal. Together we will analyze the impacts and stay involved in the process to ensure that our community livability, safety and environment are protected."

What you can do: Sam Walton said he wouldn't locate a store where the people didn't want one. He said he wouldn't go in and create a fuss. But here's Wal-Mart fussing around in Gresham, after being rejected twice. Now Wal-Mart has shrunk the store to 53% of its original poorly-designed size. But keep in mind: a 112,000 s.f. store is more than two football fields in size, and is still objectionable on scale arguments. It does not fit in with the surrounding area, it will still generate more traffic in one location than is in the public welfare, it will still have an adverse impact on the value of surrounding residential value, etc. If a developer comes forward with a really awful project at first, and then scales it down to be just awful, it really ought to be denied again. Otherwise, Wal-Mart will continually use its largest prototypes as a stalking horse, and switch to a smaller model as soon as the extra-large gets shot down. They look like they're trying to comply with local wishes, while all the time they could have gone with a store half the size or less, but tried to lead with the Big One first. For earlier stories of the sorry history of this case, search Newsflash by "Gresham."










 
 
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