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2006-03-09
Hadley, MA. State Rules Wal-Mart Detention Pond Is a Wetland

Wal-Mart is drowning in its own water. We reported on February 15, 2006 that the Conservation Commission in Hadley, Massachusetts ruled that a detention pond near an existing Wal-Mart is a wetland, thus complicating a developer's plans to build a new 212,000 s.f. Wal-Mart supercenter on land behind an existing Wal-Mart mall. In other words, the existing Wal-Mart site plan is now messing up the proposed Wal-Mart supercenter site plan. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection ruled this week on an appeal brought by the developer, Pyramid Construction, against the Conservation Commission. The DEP found that the Conservation Commission ruling was correct. The developer now has 10 days to appeal a second time. If they do, the timetable for the project will continue to sink below the surface. The Conservation Commission told Wal-Mart that the 12,600 s.f. detention pond on the 22 acre site is, in fact, a wetland, because it has wetland plant species (reeds, cattails) and wetland animal species (a colony of muskrats). Adding this new wetland to the site causes the Wal-Mart proposal as presented to be unworkable. If the developer appeals, the timetable could be in detention for as long as 24 months. Pyramid could also go back to the drawing boards and design a smaller building footprint and site plan layout, but this means months of time, and significant new expense.

What you can do: This case could be helpful to any other Massachusetts community where developers are presenting a plan that contains an existing detention pond from an earlier mall or big box store. The Route 9 corridor, which has been mangled by town planners over the past twenty years, is now a classic roadside showcase of big box sprawl. While this battle has been sinking below the waves, the Hadley Neighbors fighting the Wal-Mart are now seeking to limit the size of future big box stores. All this fuss over a discount store that Wal-Mart claimed in 1999 they would not seek to expand. For earlier stories on this beleaguered community, search Newsflash by "Hadley."










 
 
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