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2007-06-23
Albuquerque, NM. No Roses For Departing Wal-Mart

On April 5, 2007, Sprawl-Busters reported that the Albuquerque, New Mexico City Council voted unanimously against a Wal-Mart superstore plan. The council voted to buy the 22 acre site Wal-Mart wanted, and keep it for a landing space for the city's annual balloon fiesta. Rather than roll up their drawings and steal away in the night, Wal-Mart decided to stay and fight. The giant retailer already has 12 stores in the metro Albuquerque area, including nine in the city. Wal-Mart redesigned its store, and went back to the city's Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) about a week ago. Wal-Mart's new plan had a smaller parking lot, a "smaller" store footprint at 126,000 s.f., and a "park" on the land. But area residents raised big opposition to the proposed "small" store. "We've tried to work with Wal-Mart in good faith for a neighborhood market on a small scale," a spokesman for the North Valley Neighborhood Association told the media. "They've refused any overtures to that." After six hours of debate, the Commissioners ruled that although the area was commercially zoned, the proposed supercenter was not the right fit for the Vista del Norte and Osuna Road Northeast intersection. They said it would generate too much noise, pollution and traffic. "I'm sorry your developer promised you roses," the vice president of the Commission told Wal-Mart. "You're not going to get them." After the decision, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart said the company might appeal. But yesterday, Wal-Mart issued the following press release: "After careful consideration, Wal-Mart has decided not to appeal the EPC's decision to deny site plan approval for the development at Osuna and Vista del Norte. We want to thank everyone who, during the last 18 months, participated in the process of developing a site plan that reflects the surrounding community's development priorities for this 22-acre parcel of land: a pedestrian friendly site with a smaller Wal-Mart footprint, a community park, and space for additional retail shops and services. We look forward to continuing to fill the need for affordable retail services and groceries facing residents throughout the City of Albuquerque."

What you can do: Instead of a retailing giant, the parcel of land will remain available to hot-air balloon pilots participating in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. This is the second store this week that Wal-Mart has walked away from. It took them a year and a half to let go of this ill-fated project, after investing a small fortune in architectural, engineering, and legal fees. The company often picks contentious sites, gets pounded at public hearings, but keeps trying to punch back long after the bell has rung. In this case, local opponents tried to convince Wal-Mart to adopt a truly smaller scale, but the negotiations went nowhere. As a result, Wal-Mart leaves the stage without the roses its developer promised. The hot air has been let out of Wal-Mart's balloon. For earlier stories, search Newsflash by "Albuquerque."










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

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