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2007-10-01
Galt, CA. Wal-Mart Surprised When Planning Commission Supports Size Cap

On September 18, 2007, Sprawl-Busters reported that the City Council in Galt, California was reviewing a proposed zoning ordinance that would ban any retail stores larger than 140,000 s.f., if it had more than 10% of its interior retail space devoted to non-taxable goods, like groceries. This is the so-called "California cap" model that applies to food stores, but leaves other warehouse and home improvement big boxes unaffected. The proposed law in Galt also would require stores between 100,000 to 139,999 s.f. to apply for a conditional use permit. Developers would also have to produce impact studies on the project's effect on crime, urban decay, the economy and the project's general compatibility within a neighborhood. On September 27th, the city's Planning Commission approved by a vote of 4-1 the proposed big box ordinance, which officials say will apply to the proposed Wal-Mart supercenter in Galt. The commission lowered the size limit for certain stores to 120,000 s.f. that devote 10% of their floor space to selling groceries, or non-taxable goods. This could present a super problem to Wal-Mart's proposed 132,000 s.f. store on Twin Cities Road. The Lodi News said the supercenter has 19% of grocery space, but usually a supercenter has 35% to 45% grocery space. Now the ordinance has to be finally approved by the City Council, so Wal-Mart will be turning its lobbying attention to that body. On their way out of the Planning Commission, a Wal-Mart spokesman told the News, "We weren't expecting this outcome today. Our current application would be out of compliance with this ordinance. The recommendation would prevent us from building a store identical to the ones we have in Elk Grove and Lodi. We are looking forward to the City Council further reviewing and listening to the public comment. We will have to regroup with our team." The Planning commission version also requires that stores between 90,000 and 120,000 square feet obtain a conditional use permit. Planning Commissioner Eugene Davenport told the newspaper he doesn't trust companies like Wal-Mart. "It's unacceptable that we are letting these corporations come in and tell us what they are going to do," he said. "It is our job to protect the citizens of Galt with smart planning."

What you can do: Galt's big box ban now heads to the city council. The city's Vice Mayor and other council members proposed the size cap in the first place. "I don't have a problem with what they proposed," one council member said after the commission's vote. "It's needed to create a balance, to maintain some diversity with the businesses in Galt. The big box ordinance came before Wal-Mart came into the picture," he said. "I'm sure if Wal-Mart really wanted to come into the community, they would scale back to 120,000 (square feet)." To help local residents in Galt limit the size of Wal-Mart and other retailers, send an email to Galt Mayor Tim Raboy at traboy@ci.galt.ca.us with the following message: "Support the Planning commission's big box ordinance. Galt residents have lots of places to find big box stores nearby, but there is only one Galt Market. Keep your city unique, and keep the Wal-Mart's out."










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

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