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2006-01-14
Hadley, MA. Wal-Mart Somehow “Missed” Wetlands

Wal-Mart, which prides itself on its state-of-the-art technology in product delivery and inventory, somehow failed to inventory the existence of wetlands on the parcel it wants to build a supercenter on in Hadley, Massachusetts. According to a report from the citizen's group, Hadley Neighbors, the town's Conservation Commission "voted unanimously this week to declare large areas of the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter
site to be regulated wetlands. The wetlands are not reported in the developer's Nov. 1, 2005, "Notice of Intent" filing, even though the Supercenter and its parking lots will obviously be built on top of them. The ruling came in response to a citizen request to identify all the wetlands on the Hampshire Mall property because the developer has refused to disclose them, despite repeated advisories from regulatory agencies to do so. Citizens showed that large areas of wetlands vegetation and wildlife habitat would be wiped out if the Supercenter is built. Under Massachusetts law, wetlands that will be altered must be "replicated," or reconstructed, elsewhere on the property. Yet Wal-Mart shows no replication plans for any of the wetlands on Hampshire Mall property. An environmental consultant for the Conservation Commission also found that the Wal-Mart developer's replication plans to compensate for the filling of streams on adjacent land that would also be part of the Supercenter project will not likely comply with state law. The Commission's ruling now goes to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, and the Wal-Mart developer has already announced they will challenge it. If the DEP upholds the ruling, it is unclear how the developer will be able to fit the legally required replication areas on the same site with the 212,000-square foot Supercenter and its 13-acre parking lot."

What you can do: Citizens groups are reminded that whenever water resources are thought to be located on a piece of land being considered for development, that the parcel needs to be "delineated" to verify where the wetlands, or streams, or acquifers might lie. Never assume that a developer's self-presented delineation of such water resources are definitive or correct. Cities and towns should always be pressured to produce an independent mapping (paid for by the developer) of the land by a water resource expert, like a hydrologist, to determine at an arm's length distance from the developer, where the wetlands or streams are, and how extensive they are. In this case, the citizens charge that Wal-Mart's developer did not even "see" the wetlands on the site, and once an accurate accounting was made, the project does not fit on the site as designed because of the extensive wetlands. The citizens had to hire their own environmental specialists. For more background on this story, search by "Hadley" or "wetland" for related stories. For local contacts in Hadley, contact info@sprawl-busters.com










 
 
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