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2007-12-11
Glen Carbon, IL. Citizens Beat Wealthy Wal-Mart Developer

On January 18, 2007, Sprawl-Busters reported that Wal-Mart was trying to convert its discount store into a superstore in Glen Carbon, Illinois. According to the Belleville News-Democrat, the idea of adding 80,000 s.f. to the existing Wal-Mart "isn't a popular idea with some residents." Wal-Mart wanted to add all this space inside their existing parking lot. The village Planning & Zoning Commission approved the build out. A group called the Concerned Citizens of Glen Carbon came out against the zoning variance required for Wal-Mart to expand. "I don't see giving them another advantage to clutter up the neighborhood. All the other businesses have to comply with the (zoning) codes," said one member of the Concerned Citizens. One of Wal-Mart's engineers told village officials that Wal-Mart would pick up 40-50 new parking spaces by just storing its garden supplies, like mulch and fertilizers, inside. Wal-Mart currently stores these products outside in their parking lot, which means these substances are getting into the groundwater through stormwater runoff. The owners of the shopping center, THF Properties of St. Louis, says any displaced business in the shopping center will be relocated. The Village Board voted also voted to support the plan. But now, almost one year later, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Wal-Mart's expansion plans are dead. Mayor Rob Jackstadt told the newspaper earlier this week that Wal-Mart has withdrawn their supercenter expansion plan. That's good news for the citizens who filed a lawsuit against the Village, the Glen-Ed Citizens for Fair Growth. The group had charged that the supercenter plan would not have enough parking, would increase traffic congestion, and hurt smaller businesses in the Village. The group posted the following message on its website yesterday: "Congratulations to the residents of the Village of Glen Carbon. You made your opinions known and your voices heard. And as a result, Wal-Mart has withdrawn their proposal to turn our store into a SuperCenter. The Village of Glen Carbon has received a letter from the Wal-Mart Corporation stating their intention to withdraw the proposed SuperCenter plan. The Village government will now make the accompanying parking lot and sign variances null and void. Once that is official, the GlenEd Citizens will withdraw the lawsuit against the Village with pleasure. The Mayor insists, of course, that our community action and petition of 1000+ signatures and lawsuit had nothing to do with the decision. We obviously disagree. While Wal-Mart has been taking SuperCenters off the table across the nation, one can hardly believe that the intense controversy surrounding our particular store had 'nothing' to do with the decision. What is a shame is that our community action had nothing to do with the Village Board decision. I hope we all remember that in early 2009 when we elect a new Mayor and replace several members of the Village Board." The Mayor released a statement to the media saying Wal-Mart's collapse was not related to the lawsuit. "Indeed, nationally Wal-Mart has decided to moderate the growth of its Supercenters," the Mayor said. "We expect that the lawsuit will be dismissed as moot."

What you can do: The owner of the shopping center where Wal-Mart would have located, THF Realty of St. Louis, planned to expand the store by about 80,000 s.f. The planned expansion included demolishing part of the existing shopping center, including a movie theater and about 20 small shops. THF was founded in 1991. It owns 100 properties comprising more than 20 million square feet of leaseable area in 23 states. A concentration of THF properties exists in Missouri, Illinois, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The company says its mission is to be the "best private developer in America." The Chairman of THF is Stan Kroenke, a co-owner of the St. Louis Rams, and owner of the Denver Nuggets and the Denver Avalanche. In 2003, Forbes magazine listed Kroenke's net worth at $1.4 billion. Building Wal-Marts is a family affair from Kroenke. He married into the Walton family. His wife Ann is the daughter of Sam Walton's brother Bud, who died in 1995. Ann Walton Kroenke is one of the richest women in America. The citizens in the tiny Village of Glen Carbon stood up to Wal-Mart and Kroenke, and in the end, the citizens were the ones left standing. To read more about the group, go to http://www.glenedcitizens.blogspot.com/











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

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