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2006-02-11
Etna, OH. Wal-Mart Called An Economic & Safety Disaster

Ohio is being aerial bombed with proposed Wal-Marts, and opposition is following the giant retailer everywhere they try to drop a store. The following message is typical of the emails Sprawl-Busters receives: "I would appreciate any help you can offer to help stop 2 Wal-Mart stores and 1 Home Depot. These are proposed to be on 2 sites in rural areas. One site is 2 miles from my home in Pickerington, Ohio. The other site is 3 miles from my home in Pataskala, Ohio. I presently have two Wal-Mart stores within 6 miles of my home. They are literally within 2 and 3 minutes from my house on undeveloped rural highways. Right now I can get to Wal-Mart within 8 minutes. How many Wal-Marts do we need?" Apparently that same thought occurred to public officials in the area. Plans for a Wal-Mart in Etna, Ohio have spurred officials from Etna, Pataskala, Licking County, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) and the Ohio Department of Transportation to convene next month to discuss the large tracts of land along Route 310 that are zoned for general business. Wal-Mart's saturation of the area has finally triggered a public reaction on possibly limiting the development that could occur there. "There has been a consensus that this is something we need to do," the director of the Licking County Planning Commission told Columbus This Week newspaper. The MORPC's traffic specialist added, "They (Wal-Mart) brought back the thinking among some of the local governments that maybe it would be wise to do some kind of a use plan for the corridor. But nothing has been committed. They are just planning to get together to talk about it." To build its 204,000 s.f. superstore in Etna, Wal-Mart has to get road access permits from Licking county, and one counth spokesman said it would be difficult for Wal-Mart's traffic access plan to meet county guidelines. "We have been very successful working with many of the communities where we have built stores," a Wal-Mart spokeman told This Week. "This particular project would be no different. We always welcome input." But the giant retailer might not like the input from one Etna trustee, who said Wal-Mart would be harmful to his town, and an "economic and safety disaster" Trustee Gary Burkholder added, "That business going in there will not work. I feel strongly that I have a duty to protect the quality of life of our residents."

What you can do: Can Wal-Mart work with that kind of 'input.' It's refreshing to hear a public official lay it out clearly. Wal-Mart is an economic and safety disaster for many communities, but by the time public officials respond, its too late. In this case, if the regional leaders rezone route 310 to neighborhood commercial, or cap the size of buildings, they can still save themselves from disaster. If not, they'll have wall to wall Wal-Marts every 5 miles.













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

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