Sprawl-Busters Newsflash Blog - Anti-Sprawl news since 1998.
Subscribe to Sprawl-Busters Blog Follow Sprawl Busters on Twitter
Occupy Walmart & Order Al's Books Movies Newsflash! The Case Against Sprawl Home Towns Not Home Depot Victories Your Battles About Us Contact Us  

recent news

List articles
by the month:

2017
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2016
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2015
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2014
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2013
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2012
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2011
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2010
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2009
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2008
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2007
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2006
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2005
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2004
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2003
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2002
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2001
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2000
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

1999
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

1998
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC


Search database by text:

2010-03-03
Exeter, PA. Wal-Mart Superstore Suffers Setback By Silence

It appears that Wal-Mart is down for the count in a small Pennsylvania community, after local officials dealt them a silent blow to the head. Almost a year ago, on March 26, 2009, Sprawl-Busters reported that the Planning Commission in Exeter, a small borough with roughly 6,000 people, had voted 2-1 to recommend to the Borough Council that land slated for a Wal-Mart supercenter be rezoned commercially. Residents against the supercenter formed a group called "Exeter First" to prevent the industrially-zoned parcel from being rezoned to commercial. The rezoning was essential to pave the way for a 153,000 s.f. supercenter on the undeveloped 15.5 acre site. The Borough Council chambers were packed with residents when the Planning Commission met, and the rezoning vote came "despite residents' pleas to hold off on a decision," according to the Times Leader newspaper. The land Wal-Mart wants is the site of a former mobile home park, and is zoned light industrial. Wal-Mart argued that rezoning the land was appropriate, because the site lies inside a corridor that already has many other commercial businesses -- but none of them nearly the size of three football fields. Opponents charged that the huge development would overwhelm the sewage system in the town. Wal-Mart's engineers said the large impervious site would somehow reduce flooding in the area, because it will have an underground retention basin that will hold stormwater and release it slowly. Flooding is a major issue in Exeter, because part of this project lies in the Hicks Creek watershed, and the borough has had a moratorium on construction in the watershed because of past flooding problems. Increased traffic congestion was also raised by a number of area residents, as well as concerns over traffic cutting through side streets, and the impact the project would have overall on nearby residential property values. Exeter Borough Council Chairman Richard Murawski appeared to be ready to approve the project before it even reached his desk. Murawski referred to the project as a "Home Town Wal-Mart" in the Pittston Dispatch, and admitted that Wal-Mart had a 'work session' with the Council in late February, 2009, at which Wal-Mart presented detailed plans to deal with stormwater runoff. Murawski told the Dispatch at that time that "everything is looking positive" for the project, and that he believed the superstore would "create 300 plus jobs, while increasing Exeter's tax base, something that is truly beneficial in this economy." On June 2, 2009 the Borough Council voted to conduct an overall study of the impact of the rezoning of the Wyoming Avenue/Route 11 corridor parcel. According to the Citizen's Voice newspaper, the study would examine the proposed store's environmental, traffic, employment and tax base effects, and would be underwritten by the landowners. This week, Wal-Mart received what The Citizen's Voice called a "potential knockout blow" when the Borough Council failed to adopt any motion to rezone land for the Wal-Mart. There were two ordinances before the Council, but when one councilor made a motion to reject the rezoning, there was silence: no one seconded it, and it died. Of the two motions Wal-Mart wanted -- neither one of them could get a second either, so the silence of Council members killed the rezoning -- at least for now. Because there was no vote at all, technically Wal-Mart can return and try again. "It was a victory," said Exeter First's attorney. "The residents have been heard loud and clear." But the borough's attorney sounded a note of caution: "It was not defeated. So what can happen is it was basically tabled."



What you can do: A disappointed Wal-Mart attorney tried to suggest that Wal-Mart would take its marbles and go elsewhere. When asked if other towns might want them, Wal-Mart's Philadelphia lawyer said, "I guess we'll start answering all the phone calls." Chairman Murawski told The Citizen Voice after the vote the store must fit the community. Exeter First had argued that the borough needed to be in control of its future -- not the developer. "Wal-Mart doesn't get to zone the community, you do," said the opponent's lawyer. "If you want Wal-Mart for some reason, plan for it. ... That gentleman (Wal-Mart's attorney) is going back to Philadelphia, but these people are going to be here forever." One resident summed up opponents objections to the store: "A big-box store doesn't belong in a small town. It will destroy what we have here." At the first Council hearing in early June of 2009, one Exeter resident presented the Borough Council with a petition against the Wal-Mart bearing 300 signatures. One Council member, when presented with the petition, told the public, "My vote, when I do vote, pro or against, will be what the majority wants in this town ... and believe me, if I have to go door to door, I will." The day before the March, 2009 hearing, the citizen's group issued the following press release: "Exeter First, a group of Exeter and Wyoming Valley residents concerned about the proposed construction of a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Exeter, will attend the Exeter Borough Planning Commission Meeting... The group has questions and concerns about traffic safety, traffic congestion, and water runoff regarding the proposal by a developer to construct a Wal-Mart Supercenter on Wyoming Avenue in Exeter." An engineering firm hired to work on rezoning the borough, suggested to the council that they should deny both ordinances until his firm presents its ideas for a big-box ordinance which will give the borough more control over developments. Readers are urged to call Borough Chairman Richard Murkawski at (570) 654-3001 with this message: "Mr. Chairman, I am encouraged by the silence that greeted Wal-Mart's zoning changes, and I urge you to do nothing on this project until the borough has put into place tighter controls over large-scale projects. In the meantime, you already have a nearby Wal-Mart in Pittston just minutes away, plus a superstore in Wilkes-Barre less than 7 miles away. More Wal-Marts are being built nearby. This project will add little or no economic value to your community, because it is already saturated with Wal-Marts. That means more market share taken from existing merchants -- and no new jobs. The land in question has been light industrial since at least 1972, and you could attract better paying jobs by keeping the land industrially zoned, instead of 'down-zoning' it to commercial. There are serious traffic and environmental concerns that have not been fully explored. You can't buy small town quality of life on any Wal-Mart shelf -- but once they take it from you -- you can't buy it back at any price. A small community of 6,000 people has no need for a superstore the size of three football fields. Vote NO on the rezoning, and redo your zoning ordinance to make sure this kind of sprawl never comes before the Council again."










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

info@sprawl-busters.com
Strategic Planning ~ Field Operations
Voter Campaigns 
21 Grinnell St, Greenfield ~ MA 01301
(413) 772-6289