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1999-12-28
Spring Hill, FL. The Weeki Wachee Wal-Mart

I concluded long ago that the Wal-Mart Real Estate department is willing to put a store anywhere you can collect 15 or more acres of land. In Spring Hill, Florida, for example, a developer is reportedly talking to Wal-Mart about locating a superstore 700 feet from the Weeki Wachee Preserve. Two local residents are determined to stop the superstore, and have filed a lawsuit in the Fifth Circuit Court, arguing that Hernando County Commissioners violated their own Comprehensive Plan by altering the zoning of the parcel developers have presented to Wal-Mart. The County first rezoned the land from agricultural to commercial, which then opened the door for the owner, Florida Water Corporation, to immediately sell the land to a developer. The 30 acres in contention was a former spray field used for irrigation, and contains deep ruts throughout, according to the newspaper Hernando Today. County Commissioners have argued that the land kept in its natural state is a danger to bears and other wildlife because they will wander out onto busy Route 19 and be hit by a car. It must follow, then, that a Wal-Mart is safer for bears. Will the Commissioners argue next that Wal-Mart will also save the bears money if they choose to shop at the new store? Last September the Commissioners voted to rezone the land commercial, then a month later removed all land use restrictions on the disputed property. The restrictions said the land was to be used strictly for wastewater disposal. Within days of the Commissioners' action, Florida Water sold 30 acres to a developer, and the rumors about Wal-Mart began appearing in the local paper. Arline Erdrich and Leslie Newmann, two members of the Gulf Coast Conservancy, filed their lawsuit as individuals, arguing that a 24 hour supercenter has no business being located so close to the largest coastal greenway in Florida. Paving over the site will destroy ecologically-sensitive estuaries and fish breeding areas, they argue. In December, the County Commissioners asked the developer to submit a detailed site plan for the land at Spring Hill Drive, but Florida Water Services said there was "no site plan to submit". The Commissioners voted unanimously to deny the utility's request to clear some of the property, and instead asked Florida Water for a site plan. Florida Water said the developer does not have an agreement yet with any retailer. Wal-Mart has not commented one way or the other. Commissioner Chris Kingsley has called for planning meetings to prevent the corner from becoming "one huge chunk of concrete". But that's exactly what he'll get with a Wal-Mart supercenter.

What you can do: For more information about how to help members of the Gulf Coast Conservancy fight to keep Wal-Mart away from the Weeki Wachee Preserve, contact info@sprawl-busters.com










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

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