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2001-06-22
Middletown, RI. Big Box Gas Station Rejected

All across the country, large retailers such as Costco, Wal-Mart, BJs, Albertson's, etc are trying to add gas stations to their parking lots. Such facilities often raise serious traffic and safety issues, and make an already intense use more problematic.They also often are proposed despite no apparent public need for additional gas stations in markets already saturated with gas. An increasing number of communities are rejecting such adjacent developments. In Middletown, Rhode Island last week, the Town Council unanimously rebuffed an effort by the Stop & Shop supermarket (Royal Ahold) to change the town's zoning ordinance to permit gas stations at shopping centers. The retailer made the request after having a gas station rejected by the town last year. But the gas station plan met with immediate resistance. "Who benefits from this amendment?" asked Town Council member Patricia Murphy, according to the Middletown News. "The average Middletown resident? The public in general? Where does the need come from? How many gas stations do we need in a given area? We have enough now." The Stop & Shop proposed ordinance would have allowed gas stations in parking lots to be permitted as long as they had a boundary of asphalt or concrete berms or plantings, a very minor traffic provision. "We probably do have enough gas stations in town," said Councilman Bill Flynn. "Also traffic. I'm just not prepared to add another bit of traffic to shopping centers." A third Councilor, Bruce Allen, objected to possible impacts on a nearby brook and the town's drinking water. "More important," Allen added, "we'd be opening up pandora's box to all shopping centers." Councilor Theresa Santos asked "What's going to come next? Are they going to put gasoline stations with barber shops?"

What you can do: National chains like Albertson's are using gas as a "customer loyalty" product: to bring consumers back to their store, and more often. Albertson's says it has gas stations at 136 stores. Stores like Albertson's give shoppers a dime off the price of a gallon of gas if they buy certain grocery items in the store. The HEB grocery chain has a similar 'fuel rewards' program for shoppers who purchase certain brand items. The promotion brings more sales to the HEB stores, and ironically, the discounts are paid for by the product manufacturers, but the customers think its HEB giving the price break. A number of New England communities have rejected these gas stations in big box stores. For more information about victories against big box gas, sample zoning codes to keep them out, and a 5 min. video on the subject, contact info@sprawl-busters.com










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

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