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2006-08-29
Knightdale, NC. Residents Sue Town Over Wal-Mart Project

Residents in Knightdale, North Carolina, have turned to the same tactic Wal-Mart would use if it were denied in a small town: the courts. Sprawl-Busters received the following press release today from the front lines of this battle over a 206,000 s.f. superstore on 51 acres of land: "The citizens group called C.A.R.E. (Citizens Against Residential Encroachment) has hired a lawyer, Mike Brough, (Brough Law Firm) from Chapel Hill to file a lawsuit against the town of Knightdale for voting to rezone residential land to commercial, in order to build a Super Wal-Mart shopping center (with 1,800 parking spaces, and possibly a Kohl's and an Outback Steakhouse). Our lawyer is filing the lawsuit on Wednesday, Aug. 30. We are having a press conference this Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. on Sternwheel Way, where the road will lead out from back of the Super Wal-mart. We are going to send a message to Town Council that we mean business and this is not just a one man effort, but it's the community that is standing up for their neighborhood and town. On July 5 the Knightdale Town Council voted to rezone the land so a Super Wal-Mart could be built on Hwy. 64. The Wal-mart will be in the backyards of about 30 homes (only 100 feet away). The surrounding neighborhood does not want the Wal-mart so close to their homes because it will decrease the property value of the homes by as much as $20,000. It will also bring in more traffic, crime, and pollution (run off from the oil and gas from the parking lot). We are suing on the grounds that no notifications were sent out about the Town Hall Hearings to the residents who abut the land on Mingocrest Drive. The Town of Knightdale claims they sent them, but no one on Mingocrest Drive says they received anything in the mail about the meetings. By law they are required to send these notifications out to anyone who lives within 200 ft of the property up for rezoning. An economic analysis was not done before the Town Council voted to rezone the land for a Super Wal-mart. No studies were done to see how a Super Wal-mart with 1,800 parking spaces would cost taxpayers money for sewage, road repair, extra police, etc. An environmental analysis was not done. The run-off of oil and gas from the parking lot into our neighborhood will likely increase the pollution in our drinking water. Are they sure our drinking water will be safe? This could potentially cause birth defects, cancer, sterility, etc. There are also conflict of interest issues. One of the Town Councilmen, Mike Chaulk, has business affiliations with Wakefield Development, the developer of the property that was rezoned. Mike Chaulk owns a landscaping business and his company got the contract to clean and maintain the parking lots for Wakefield Development's Target Shopping Center across the street from where they want to build the Super Wal-mart."

What you can do: All this controversy was caused by one person's vote. In late June, the Knightdale Town Council voted 3-2 to approve the developer's, Wakefield Associates, request to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter on land bordering two residential neighborhoods. The Council heard two hours of testimony, and at least 30 people spoke against the plan. "It's not a case where this council is intimidated or money-hungry," one council member told the News Observer. "When you look at the town as a whole, this is a good development." The rezoning required was presented as an ordinance, which meant that four of five commissioners had to vote in favor of the project for the approval to be final. Because the first vote did not reach that super majority, the council had to vote a second time at a subsequent meeting, but under state law that second vote only had to be a simple majority vote. The plans call for the supercenter and a large retention pond to be placed at the back of the property on 19 acres that is not currently zoned for a large retail store. Neighbors complained that the store would bring crime, light and noise pollution, and harm property values in the abutting Timber Ridge and Widewater Village subdivisions. But the best they got out of the debate was a comment by one town councilor who voted against Wal-Mart. "I also see this as a good project in a bad location," he said. When News 14 interviewed Rita Rakestraw, spokesperson for CARE, she said her group needs $15,000 to proceed with their plans to file a lawsuit. So far they have about a third of that. "We're going to have yard sales, we're going to collect cans, donations from people, bake sales, barbecues -- we're going to do it all," she said. If you would like to help the citizens of Knightdale stand up to Wal-Mart, the developer, and town officials, or for further information about the Knightdale lawsuit, contact info@sprawl-busters.com










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

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