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2007-03-21
Davie, FL. Wal-Mart Loses Court Appeal in Superstore Case

This past week, a Broward County, Florida judge gave residents in Davie, Florida something to get juiced about. Wal-Mart had proposed to build a 24/7 superstore on 36 acres of land in Davie. The project was vigorously opposed by residents of the Rolling Hills Lake Estates, and Pine Island Bay. On July 20, 2006, Sprawl-Busters reported that Wal-Mart couldn't muster a single vote when their project came before the Town Council. The retailer's plans for a 202,853 s.f. superstore was slam-dunked on a 4-0 vote. Wal-Mart's argument hinged on a legal settlement from 17 years ago that allowed larger stores than the town now allows. We reported on October 12, 2006 that Wal-Mart had filed a lawsuit in Broward Circuit Court, charging that council members wrongly denied their plan. Town Attorney Monroe Kiar told the South Florida Sun Sentinel, "We're very confident the court will uphold the Town Council's decision." Five months later, the town can be even more comfortable, because Wal-Mart's case was thrown out by Judge Cheryl Aleman. She ruled that the Town Council was correct to deny the site plan in July. The Sun Sentinel quoted Davie Mayor Tom Truex as saying, "Good for us. I think the residents in that area are going to be extremely relieved. The plan as submitted was not compatible [with the area]." Wal-Mart has the option now to appeal further, and waste more of the taxpayer's money. In their suit, Wal-Mart charged that the Davie town council erred, because the site was zoned for commercial use. Wal-Mart argued further that the town's planners said the project was consistent with the property's zoning and surrounding areas. But town leaders said the superstore would be bad for residents. The Mayor actually recused himself from the vote because his brother works for the company that designed the project. Town officials countered Wal-Mart's claims by noting that the project violated the town's comprehensive plan and was inconsistent with nearby neighborhoods. The town's current code only allows for a 100,000 s.f. store. "I'm not surprised that we won," said W. Tucker Gibbs, the attorney who represented the Rolling Hills Homeowners Association. "The Town Council did the right thing. They knew they did the right thing. The law was on their side."

What you can do: During the local site plan hearings, Wal-Mart tried to sweeten the deal for the town. The retailer offered to create landscaping to buffer the project from the neighborhood -- but nothing short of a rain forest could buffer a store 4 times the size of a football field. The company also offered to spend $100,000 to improve traffic conditions -- which largely were to benefit its store, not the community. The Sun Sentinel interviewed one homeowner who did not want to wait to learn the outcome of the court case -- he just moved to nearby Stuart, Florida. "I didn't want to take any chances," the longtime resident told the newspaper. "I would have been right next to the Wal-Mart." But homeowners in Davie didn't have to move. They just stood their ground and fought Wal-Mart. Thanks to the actions of their town council, they won the battle, and the legal challenge. To visualize what its like to have a Wal-Mart as your neighbor, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UN3HvhDktc . For earlier stories on this community, search Newsflash by "Davie."










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

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