Stoughton, WI. City Votes To Annex Land For A Wal-Mart Supercenter
A controversial Wal-Mart proposal in Stoughton, Wisconsin continues to make headlines this week, as the city reversed itself and voted to annex land for Wal-Mart. Here is a citizen's report from the front lines: "Last night, December 13, 2005, in a highly charged meeting, the city council approved a land annexation measure by a vote of 8-4. This brought 185 acres of land into the city of Stoughton, and
essentially gave Wal-Mart the "green light" to proceed with its plans to
build a supercenter there. This overly ambitious and totally unneeded annexation, gives a whole new
meaning to the word sprawl. The land that was annexed, is by many estimates
enough to meet Stoughton's needs for the next 30 years or more. This
annexation will include not only a Wal-Mart Supercenter plus 40 acres of
additional retail development, but also up to 1,000 condos, apartments, and
homes in a mixed use development. McClure Engineering, Wal-Mart's developer was also present at last night's meeting. McClure is also working on Wal-Mart's behalf to secure supercenters in the cities of Hartford and Jefferson in Wisconsin. This is once again an illustration of Wal-Mart's total disregard for the
welfare of other businesses in the community, and in nearby towns as well.
Stoughton Forward, led by "Buzz" Davis, fought a tough uphill battle against
the annexation and Wal-Mart. Tom Boese, along with members of Stoughton
Forward, collected the signatures of 60 businesses that were opposed to the
annexation, urging the city council to vote "NO" and to complete an economic
impact study before moving forward with the annexation. This latest vote was different in one key aspect from the vote taken last September which denied the annexation. This time, Alder Pat Schneider who previously voted "NO", changed his vote to "Aye." His swing vote and the city council, may have set into motion forces that will undo the many years of hard work and the millions of dollars spent on improving the downtown business district. It's feared that some businesses may eventually migrate or relocate to the outside of the city to be closer to "the action" once the Wal-Mart Supercenter is built. This would create a downward spiral that may
be difficult to stop or reverse. The leadership of the city council under
Mayor Helen Johnson and Alder Jim Griffin, will have to someday answer for
the legacy they have left to Stoughton. Tom Boese spoke to Mayor Johnson the day before the vote, and she reaffirmed her long-held belief that
Wal-Mart would close its existing store in the city if the supercenter was
not approved. She still maintains her primary concern is that the elderly
citizens in Stoughton have a place to buy their socks and pajamas. In Mayor
Johnson's world, the availability of cheap socks and pajamas trumps a
thriving and healthy downtown business district.
What you can do: Sprawl-Busters Principle: People who testify at Wal-Mart hearings in support of superstore sprawl have a sense of community that is no bigger than the dimensions of their own shopping cart. For earlier stories on this community, search Newsflash by "Stoughton". For local contacts, email firstname.lastname@example.org.