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2007-01-23
Florence, SC. Citizens Hold Off Wal-Mart For 4 Years

On December 3, 2004, Sprawl-Busters reported that Wal-Mart opponents in Florence, South Carolina, calling themselves the Citizens for Responsible Economic Development (RED), had appealed a circuit court decision that allowed a Wal-Mart supercenter on Beltline Boulevard to proceed. Today, more than two years later, RED sent the following press release to Sprawl-Busters: "The South Carolina Supreme Court decided in favor of a storm water permit for a proposed new Wal-Mart SuperCenter in West Florence, South Carolina. The decision handed down yesterday concludes a four year battle by Responsible Economic Development (RED) with the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and Wal-Mart over protection of Jeffries Creek, Florence's most important watershed. This court case was one of two the group has filed against the giant corporation to stop a 49 acre SuperCenter development across the street from West Florence High School. Negative impacts from this sprawling development include traffic and public safety threat to the students at the High School, environmental impact to Jeffries Creek, and quality of life issues for the surrounding neighborhoods. Responsible Economic Development (RED) sued DHEC in 2003 for issuing a stormwater permit that fails to protect Jeffries Creek from polluted run-off. "The Supreme Court sometimes makes poor decisions," says Carolyn Jebaily, Chair of RED, "this ruling seriously undermines the Clean Water Act." Passed in 1972, the Act was enacted to "restore and maintain the integrity of the Nation's waters." More than 30 years later, fewer than half of our rivers and streams meet the standards of the Clean Water Act. Bob Guild, attorney for RED says: "This decision states that DHEC lacks the authority to apply the anti-degradation rules under the Pollution Control Act to stormwater and restricts DHEC from protecting impaired waters - a result which makes no sense and certainly undermines DHEC's authority. Now they lack both the will and the power to do the right thing." Jeffries Creek is listed on the DHEC impaired waterways list along with more than 900 other water bodies in South Carolina. This number has increased by 200 since 2004. Polluted storm water runoff is the leading source of pollution to watersheds in the country, damaging aquatic habitat and water quality. There are simple and cost effective ways to filter storm water before it ends up in our rivers, creeks and watersheds, yet DHEC continues to give permits that do not protect our water. In recent months DHEC gave permits to five new big-box stores on Radio Road within feet of the creek, without requiring any filtering."DHEC is doing a great job of protecting asphalt with their permits. As far as protecting water, this will be up to the citizens of the community," says Carolyn Jebaily."

What you can do: RED says it will continue to advocate for the protection of Jeffries Creek by educating the public and raising awareness about the importance of protecting our watersheds. RED has another case still pending on zoning and land use in the State Supreme Court, so the battle is not lost yet. It is remarkable that this citizen's group has kept Wal-Mart off this site for four years. What the retailer probably thought would be a simple three or four month permitting process turned into 4 long years, and much added legal expense -- and the case is still in the courts. Groups like RED are throwing Wal-Mart's production off-schedule. This Florence store should have been generated millions of dollars in sales back in 2003, but instead its just one more story on Sprawl-Busters. For RED contacts: email info@sprawl-busters.com. For earlier stories, search Newsflash by "Florence."










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

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