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2007-05-03
Crofton, MD. Developer Pulls the Plug on Wal-Mart Supercenter

Community pressure has squeezed Wal-Mart out of another community. On April 18, 2006, Sprawl-Busters reported that Anne Arundel County, Maryland, had five Wal-Marts, but the mega-retailer proposed to build a 143,000 s.f. store roughly 6 miles from an existing store. That thought stimulated a citizen's group, Crofton First, to try to block the latest big box assault. Wal-Mart applied to build a store on 20 acres of land. A spokesman for Wal-Mart told The Capital newspaper that the proposed store was "on the small side," even though its nearly the size of 3 football fields under one roof. There are already two Wal-Mart stores in nearby Glen Burnie, one in Hanoverand one in Russett, plus a Sam's Club in Parole. Wal-Mart told the newspaper that the latest store would not take sales from the Wal-Mart in Bowie, Maryland, just 6 miles to the south. "We are a retailer," the Wal-Mart spokesperson said. "We are in the business of profit. One (store) has nothing to do with the other. It's different communities and different needs." Today, Sprawl-Busters received word from Crofton First that the shadow of a Wal-Mart over their community has been lifted. "We have some exciting news," the group wrote. "Crofton First Co-Chairman, Madonna Brennan, received a phone call this afternoon from County Councilman Benoit stating that Berkshire (land owner) is ending his sale agreement with Wal-Mart and will look for a more suitable buyer. Councilman Benoit, Councilman Ed Reilly and Mr. Berkshire had some recent meetings regarding the community's opposition, which triggered this event. It was also stated that Mr. Berkshire has agreed to meet with the councilmen, Crofton First and the Greater Crofton Council before getting into a purchase agreement with another buyer! Crofton First will remain active as we do believe Route 3 needs major improvements before it can take on more big business, and we will also be following the situation with the land Wal-Mart wanted to purchase in hopes to not be back in the same battle with another big box store. But right now we just feel like celebrating! Thank you so much for all your help and guidance." According to the Baltimore Business Journal, Anne Arundel County officials came to an agreement with developer William Berkshire, President of Lancer Corp. Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold. "It is an established principle of this administration that economic development will not proceed where the infrastructure is not adequate to service that development," Leopold said in a statement. Wal-Mart's only public comment to date was: "We are grateful for the current relationship we have with the citizens of Anne Arundel County and look forward to working on future projects."

What you can do: This superstore would have been Anne Arundel's fifth Wal-Mart store, and would have significantly changed the small town character of Crofton. The proposal drew widespread criticism from a range of local groups. Torrey Jacobsen Jr., president of the Greater Crofton Council, indicated last year that he was upset the county didn't tell the community about the Wal-Mart. "We want good, smart-growth development," Mr. Jacobsen said. "We don't want superbox stores like that on Route 3." Environmentalists pointed out that the store was near the Little Patuxent river and wetlands, and put the area at unnecessary risk. "That particular zone is incredibly silted up," a member of Patuxent Riverkeepers said. "A commercial development like Wal-Mart is hugely invasive. We need more parks and open space." County Council Chairman Ed Reilly, who is from Crofton, was also against the Wal-Mart. "It's a destination facility that will draw more cars to the neighborhood," he explained. To read more about this erstwhile project, go to www.croftonfirst.com












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

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