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2006-09-10
Clare, MI. Merchant Opposes Annexation, Tax Subsidy For Wal-Mart

This week, Sprawl-Busters received the following report of a proposed Wal-Mart in Clare, Michigan: "Our business is a long time pharmacy in Clare, (20,000 s.f, which is a large independent pharmacy). We have been here for 35 five years and wealso own a gift shop in our downtown. Our city has long supported the downtown with a strong Downtown Development Association, and Main Street Board. But now the same people are supporting a new development which will at least have a Super Wal-Mart. City Manager Ken Hibl has written a letter to all residents of the City of Clare explaining the possibility of a Wal-Mart coming to Clare and why the city felt it was a good thing. In the letter, it states that the city isn't either for or against Wal-Mart coming to Clare. The city has long stated they do not know what is coming to the development on the north end of town -- yet is passing zoning ordinances that address large commercial developments. The city can't have it both ways. Either they know and are planning to accommodate the development, or they don't and are making assumptions regarding taxpayer costs for water and sewer. If the development is brought into the city, who is going to pay for the water/sewer expansion and who is going to pay for the road expansion? Who is going to pay for the road expansion for all this new traffic? The taxpayers of Clare will, unless the property doesn't come into the city, and then it will be the taxpayers of Clare County. At a minimum we as a community should be concerned about our tax dollars subsidizing any corporate expansion. Nobody cuts me a check when the parking lot needs to be resurfaced or when I want to improve my store. It is not right to ask me to pay for the improvements of a competitor. I'm not against competition. I'm against using my tax dollars to support them. If they are the largest retailer in the world, they can pay to be here. The city manager states that change happens no matter what. I have heard the city clerk has said the same thing, that if a local hardware, Mill End or pharmacy goes out of business it is ok because the city has to look at the big picture. The city has said that emotion shouldn't be part of this and it shouldn't be personal. Tell that to the families of those businesses who ran a business here for 30 years, who have been paying for the city's spending with tax dollars for all of that time. Most of their business loans are tied to all of their personal assets. So if their business goes down, the bank takes a loss and the business owner loses their house. How can that not be personal? Small businesses can't take a 20% cut in sales; they don't have 5,000 stores to draw from. Even a small loss can put them out of business. It doesn't take a large change and the largest retailer in the world is very well known for wanting to dominate an area. They are very good at it but in the end the consumer is the loser as they have fewer choices. If this project is needed so badly and the revenue is so great, then the Clare City Manager and City Commission should be able to tell us the exact date of when our taxes are going to go down after this taxpayer funded project is finished. If they can't then they are operating without the needed information to really know if this project is good for the city and its residents. They have no idea if it is really good for the residents of the city and I can be certain it will not be good for the business community of the city. I question whom the city is working for, the businesses that are currently living and working here and paying the tax or the potential residents of the future, the Wal-Marts and other big businesses. I really have a problem when government talks about revenue. Government revenue is someone else's money. We can all choose what business to spend our money at, if you don't like mine then you can shop elsewhere, but it is your choice. Taxes are not our choice we have to pay them. So when government talks about needing more revenue they are talking about needing more of your money. We all chose to live in the Clare area for a reason. I know it wasn't for a bunch of traffic and additional shopping opportunities. We knew what was here and chose to live here. All of these big boxes are available within 15 to 30 miles. Many communities have had to station a police officer at a large development like the proposed one. This stems from the added strain on services because of a large parking lot and the additional crimes that occur, such as shoplifting and car accidents. The costs are not known both in "revenue" and the costs to the city and its current tax paying residents. The city would not be an attractive city with empty businesses through the city including the downtown. Yes, it is personal to me for two reasons. One, I am a partner in a business here. And second, I also chose to live here after getting out of the Army. I have always loved Clare and chose to live here because it was a small town. I know it has its good and bad. I didn't choose it for its potential shopping opportunities."

What you can do: "The land Wal-Mart wants is currently outside the city and is being delayed because the township and city do not have an annexation agreement. The developers are saying they will go ahead anyway and are currently moving dirt at the site. The city might try and sneak sewer/water to the site by buying land on the far side of the development for a industrial park and then say they are only running the sewer/water to that site. But that would allow access to the entire development. The biggest issue is that the city wants to charge the taxpayers for all of these sewer/water developments and are saying that this development is going to save the city because of the added tax revenue. But they are not considering the lost revenue from other businesses going under or the added cost such as more police or fire to meet the needs of the development. They seem to have made up their mind that the city will be better off and that the project will save the residents money in the long run." For local contacts in Clare, contact info@sprawl-busters.com.










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

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