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2007-10-18
Derry, NH. Neighbors Object to Wal-Mart Supersize Me Plan.

Wal-Mart officials were in Derry, New Hampshire this week, talking to town officials about building a 208,000 s.f. supercenter. The company unveiled a site plan and tested the waters with the Planning Board. But residents of Derry who live near the site told officials in no uncertain terms that the one Wal-Mart Derry already has, is more than enough. Wal-Mart has to get the planning board to agree to consolidate several lots to create a large lot of 56 acres. The project's scale will also require the widening of a local road leading to the site. According to the Nutfield News, the land is located in a tax increment financing district, which means that Wal-Mart will be looking for a public subsidy to help pay for the project. The newspaper reported that Wal-Mart will pay $1 million in road improvements -- but the improvements are only needed in the first place to serve their business. A number of area residents questioned why Derry needed another Wal-Mart, since the only change is the addition of groceries to what is already sold at the existing Wal-Mart on Manchester Road. The existing discount store will close when the supercenter opens, leaving the town with a major vacant property that could take years to fill. Wal-Mart does not own its current building, only leases it. There is also a Wal-Mart supercenter 7 miles away in Salem, New Hampshire, so Derry residents are just minutes from a similar store. "I'm just curious as to why Derry in general needs a fourth pharmacy, another supermarket, what have you, rather than rightly sizing this building," one resident told the Planning Board. The parking lot for this huge project will have enough space to park 1,050 cars. The site has abutting residential properties, and all Wal-Mart has offered to do is maintain a 50 foot buffer of plantings -- which is not enough to hide the sights and sounds of a 24/7 supercenter. Wal-Mart said it will build a sound and light barrier behind the store to minimize impacts on residences in the area -- but the impacts may not be minimized enough, based on responses from other communities where Wal-Mart has built in a residential neighborhood. Wal-Mart also agreed under questioning to change the "skin" of the store -- the fašade's color and architecture, to make it seem less "box-like."


What you can do: The town's slogan is, "New Hampshire's Place to Be." The name "Derry," which comes from the city of Derry, Northern Ireland, literally means "oak woods." But the woods are rapidly being consumed by suburban sprawl and over-development. The area was once a linen-making center, and up until the second World War was described as "a sleepy farming community." But by the 2000 census, the population stood at roughly 34,000. There is clearly no market need for a Wal-Mart supercenter in Derry, given the proximity of an existing supercenter just minutes away in Salem, and the presence of a Wal-Mart discount store right in town. This new Wal-Mart supercenter will cannibalize the nearby supercenter, something that Wal-Mart executives said they would not continue to do. The Derry Town Council is holding an "Economic Development Roundtable" next week, and Wal-Mart should be the main topic of discussion, because it is a form of economic displacement, not economic development. Readers are urged to send an email to Virginia Roach, chair of the Derry Planning Board at derryinfo@ci.derry.nh.us. Tell the Planning Board, "One Wal-Mart in Derry is one more than enough. If Derry is 'New Hampshire's Place to Be,' it's not because you have a Wal-Mart -- because they are everywhere. The location for this store, 4 times the size of a football field, is incompatible with nearby residential homes. The size is wrong, the site is wrong. This is not a form of economic development, it just displaces existing jobs. Don't give them any tax breaks. The world's richest retailer doesn't need public welfare. Derry doesn't need the traffic, or the crime. Give us real economic development, and decent paying jobs, not more Wal-Marts."










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

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