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2006-04-14
Greece, NY. Wal-Mart Wants Special Deal To Escape Moratorium

The town of Greece, New York already as a Wal-Mart discount store on Elm Ridge Center Drive. There are a total of six Wal-Marts within 13 miles of the town, including 2 supercenters five miles away in Rochester, New York. Despite this over-saturation of stores, Wal-Mart has announced it wants to build a supercenter in the Northgate Plaza in Greece. The retailer will do what it did in nearby Geneseo, where it closed down its discount store to open up a supercenter across the street. The supercenter planned for Greece would be 184,212 s.f., larger than three football fields. The proposal shows the complete arrogance of this company, since the town , less than one month ago, enacted a moratorium on development in the affected area, known as the Dewey Avenue corridor. The only way Wal-Mart can build is by asking for a special deal -- to be removed from the moratorium. This halt in development was put into place so that the town's Central Dewey Avenue Corridor Enrichment Task Force could come up with plans for reviving the historic commercial center, according to the Messenger newspaper. This moratorium is set to continue for a minimum of six months, and could last as long as a year. Rather than honor the moratorium, and its goals, Wal-Mart will seek an exemption to the freeze -- in essence, a special deal that town officials are not required legally to grant. The plaza would have to be expanded by 40,000-square-feet, to produce the size of building that Wal-Mart wants, directly in contradiction to the historic nature of the surrounding area. "We are hoping the town will reconsider, based on the receipt of our application," a Wal-Mart spokesman told the Messenger. "The plaza is half empty right now." Some local residents seem resigned to the out of scale project. One neighbor naively told the newspaper, "As long as they keep up the landscaping, and the loading docks and the trash, that's all in essence what the property owners would like to see." That's the kind of "opponent" Wal-Mart likes to see -- someone with a high tolerance for disruption and loss of residential property value. The Northgate Plaza is owned by Widewaters development, which itself has been the subject of many New England battles over supercenters. But not all the neighbors are so easily won over. "We're better off with the empty buildings, than Wal-Mart," one neighbor was quoted as saying.

What you can do: If the residents of Greece allow this store to be built, then the town should change its name to "Grease" for the ease of entry allowed. The fact is, there is a moratorium in place, and during that moratorium, officials could recommend a cap on the size of retail stores, as many other communities are now doing. This would force Wal-Mart to build to the appropriate local scale, and protect the historic value of the corridor. What officials are not talking about is: what will they do with the "dark store" that this supercenter will create? Wal-Mart will surely shut down its existing store, leaving it vacant -- perhaps for years.










 
 
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