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2007-08-10
Clinton, MI. Wal-Mart Plan Tabled Over A New Road

Clinton Township, Michigan, is the largest township in the state with nearly 100,000 people. The township offices are located on land adjacent to the Old Clinton and Kalamazoo Canal. The township boasts that in Clinton there "are gardens, a fishing pond, a sledding hill and gazebo that make a beautiful setting for summer concerts and weddings. All of these make Clinton Township a nice place to live." Wal-Mart also thought Clinton would be a nice place -- to build a 176,311 s.f. superstore at the corner of Hall Road and Romeo Plank. The land where Wal-Mart would build is next to the Mall at Partridge Creek, which is expected to open in October. But the Trustees in Clinton Township voted earlier this week to table the site plan approval for the proposed Wal-Mart. Citing traffic, layout and landscaping concerns, the trustees voted unanimously (7-0) to table the issue for one month to have those issues addressed. "I think this is a serious safety issue," said township Treasurer William Sowerby, who offered the motion to require Wal-Mart to build and pay for a boulevard exit on Romeo Plank. Trustees want Wal-Mart to build a boulevard from the store property, leading out to Romeo Plank so drivers can make a Michigan turnaround to head north. "We feel as a board, unanimously that turning north onto Romeo Plank would be extremely dangerous" without it, Supervisor Bob Cannon told the Detroit Free Press. The suggested boulevard construction comes at a time when Romeo Plank is slated for expansion from two to five lanes starting this fall with completion expected in spring. Sowerby's other issues, such as storage of palettes, replacement of trees and other landscaping, operation of outdoor speakers, elimination of vehicle traffic to the rear of the store, will all present no major problem to Wal-Mart. But the Trustees also want Wal-Mart to consider reducing its 24-hour-a-day operation -- as other towns in Michigan have done. A number of local residents from the Patridge Creek housing subdivision came to this week's Board hearing, and expressed grave concerns about the scale and location for the supercenter. According to the Detroit News, one resident said neighbors were shocked to learn that a Wal-Mart would be built near their neighborhood. "It's just a hard pill to swallow, something of that magnitude," one resident said. "We were under the impression it's going to be an outdoor, high-end mall. We were never told there would be a Super Wal-Mart, 24-hours a day with an entrance on Romeo Plank." Neighbors have collected at least 600 signatures protesting the Wal-Mart location. Not surprisingly, the only one unhappy at this week's Trustees meeting was Wal-Mart's lawyer, who made an unveiled threat of legal action. "They made demands of us we do not believe are permitted by law," Wal-Mart's lawyer said. "It is obvious what they are doing -- they want to deny a Wal-Mart."

What you can do: The issues raised by Trustees are common ones, and are fully within their local police powers to negotiate with a developer. If local officials believe the project will precipitate a traffic problem, they have the right to ask the developer to mitigate the problem -- and they can certainly ask that such mitigation become part of the cost of the project. The township also has the right to limit hours of operation to lessen the impact of the store on surrounding residential properties. The fact is, although this Wal-Mart would be the first in Clinton, it will lie between Wal-Mart stores on M-59, also known as Hall Road, in Chesterfield Township and Sterling Heights. It would be the sixth Wal-Mart in the county. Clinton has been working hard to revitalize its downtown corridor. The township in 2002 created the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), which is a group of business owners, governmental officials and residents working to improve the economic status and character of the Clinton Corners. Clinton Corners is a 2.5 mile long area of Gratiot Avenue. For the first three years, the DDA has focused on the development of a Tax Increment Financing Plan (needed to fund future projects) and the Gratiot Avenue Corridor Redevelopment Plan for the district. Recent efforts have centered around the preparation of a Vision and Brand for the district. The construction of a mall at Patridge Creek, plus a Wal-Mart supercenter, will make it increasingly difficult to revitalize existing commercial districts. The township will have to hold firm at its September 4th meeting, as Wal-Mart will surely try to convince local officials that they have no power to ask for these changes to their plan, as long as the retailer 'meets all the ordinance requirements.' But such mitigation measures are very common, and Wal-Mart has the resources to give the township what they are asking for. To help the residents of Clinton, call the township's main number at (586) 286-8000, and leave this message for the Trustees: "Please tell the Trustees not to back down to Wal-Mart's legal threats. The Trustees have the right to ask Wal-Mart to pay for all road improvements on Romeo Plank. There is no need for another Wal-Mart nearly 3 times the size of a football field, and its doesn't fit into the township's vision plan."










 
 
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