McCandless, PA. Wal-Mart Admits Residents "Are Upset About Something."
The town of McCandless, Pennsylvania, pop. 28,000, has 6 Wal-Mart stores within 15 miles of its borders---including a supercenter in Cranberry, PA just 9 miles away, and a second supercenter in Pittsburg 13 miles away. Residents of McCandless have easy access to cheap Chinese imports, and no clear market need for another big box Wal-Mart. The giant retailer is already just a few minutes drive away.
That's just one of the reasons that homeowners of McCandless contacted Sprawl-Busters this week for strategy on how to stop Wal-Mart's plans in their hometown.
The town describes itself as having a "comfortable, country nature," located in the North Hills of Allegheny County. According to Channel 4 TV, residents in McCandless want to keep their quiet community without a new Wal-Mart. At a public hearing this past week in McCandless, most of the 100 or more people who showed up had nothing good to say about Wal-Mart.
It was standing room only at the McCandless zoning board meeting, with an overflow crowd forced to listen to the meeting outside the door. "I read that Wal-Mart has publicly stated they will not move into a community where they are not welcome," one resident testified. What Sam Walton wrote in his autobiography was: "If some community, for whatever reason, doesn't want us there, we're not going to go in and create a fuss." Yet here the company was, trying to fit a 150,000 s.f. building into McCandless.
The McCandless planning commission has already approved the plans for the store. A Wal-Mart spokesman told the media that customers have said they want a Wal-Mart in that part of McCandless. When a Channel 4 reporter asked the Wal-Mart spokesman about the opposition to its plans, the spokesman tried to plead ignorance about why residents were unhappy:
Reporter: "Residents have made it very clear that you're not welcome. Will you still move in?"
WalMart: "It sounds like a few people are upset."
Reporter: "More than a few. There's more than 100 people in there."
Wal-Mart: "Well, not all of them are speaking against Wal-Mart. But you're right, there are a vocal group of people here tonight who are upset about something. I'm not sure what it is. It seems something to do with traffic."
Residents testified about their concerns over noise, flooding and the possibility of Wal-Mart being open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Despite the strong showing of opposition, Wal-Mart said it plans to begin construction by next summer. Residents hope the township will consider their concerns before moving forward.
What you can do: Opponents have launched a Facebook page agains the superstore, https://www.facebook.com/NoWalmartinMcCandless to gather signatures against the giant store. The preamble to their petition reads as follows:
"The current plan to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter on Blazier Drive would bring increased traffic to the Ingomar, upper McKnight and Grubbs Road areas. In addition, the increased noise, destruction of additional wetlands which will impact flood control and local wildlife, plus increased light pollution will be a detriment to adjoining residential areas and nearby North Park. With three Giant Eagles, two Targets, a Kuhn's, Whole Foods, one Shop & Save, and a K-Mart all within a five mile radius (along with existing Wal-Marts in Cranberry and Gibsonia), why do we need another big-box superstore in the area? The traffic studies, funded by Wal-Mart, are truly questionable. The studies were not conducted during the Christmas season, or the peak North Park summer season, so a true impact has not been obtained. Also, the comments made by the planning commission on KDKA TV, regarding the low volume of traffic that should be expected, raise the question of why would Wal-Mart want to build a Supercenter in an area of such a low customer base?"
Readers are urged to call Town Council President Robert J. Powers at 412-366-2093 with the following message:
"Dear President Powers,
McCandless already is saturated with Wal-Marts--including two superstores in Pittsburg and Cranberry. We can get as many cheap Chinese imports as we want within an easy drive.
Our town was obviously not a first choice for this company. We are just a fill-in store designed to take sales from other existing merchants. For every Wal-Mart store than opens, two or more local stores will close. This superstore brings neither new jobs nor new revenues. It is not a form of economic development, it is a form of economic displacement. Instead of being a shot in the arm to local merchants, it will be a shot to the head.
The scale of this proposed store is wrong for a small community, and is incompatible with nearby residentially-zoned land. How can Planning or Zoning find that this scale of a store fits into the "comfortable, country nature" of our town that we boast of? They don't sell small town quality of life on any Wal-Mart shelf--and once they take it from us, we can't buy it back at any price!
I urge you, as President of the Council, to state your opposition to the plan, and lobby your colleagues on the Council to tell Wal-Mart their store is the wrong size, and in the wrong place."