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1999-12-04
Milford, DE. Is bigger better?

The town of Milford, Delaware already has a Wal-Mart. It's a 72,000 s.f. store, which is almost the size of two football fields -- but to companies like Wal-Mart, such stores are just not big enough to meet their sales projections. This week the Milford Planning Commission voted 7-1 to approve a site plan for a replacement Wal-Mart store, this time a 204,896 s.f. whopper! The Planning Commission was tough as nails on Wal-Mart, insisting that the company promise to place a fence on the side of its property that abuts residential homeowners. Neighbors wanted the fence to keep trash from blowing onto their properties, but no fence can prevent the loss of value that will blow away homeowners who have Wal-Mart as a nightlight. Neighbors also complained that the storm water detention ponds would overflow and flood their properties. In the end, they got the whole superstore, with only one member of the Commission dissenting. Commissioner Irving E. Ambrose voted against Wal-Mart. "I'm concerned about the economic impact on businesses that are already here," Ambrose said. "I don't necessarily believe bigger is better." Ambrose said Wal-Mart would simply drive other stores out of business. If local residents don't try to appeal a final town vote on the project, Wal-Mart will add its old store to the long list of empty Wal-Mart buildings, and build the bigger store in Milford.

What you can do: Given the fact that Milford already has a Wal-Mart, the only new thing that a supercenter brings to town is groceries, which are already being sold many places in Milford. This suggests that existing grocery stores will take the hit when Wal-Mart opens its grocery store. This could translate into a loss of existing jobs, possible store closures, devalued properties, and lost tax revenues. As Mr. Ambrose points out: "I don't necessarily believe that bigger is better." Unfortunately, members of the Milford Planning Commission did not take the time to actually run the numbers to see if a Wal-Mart supercenter, and an "old" Wal-Mart emptied out, actually is better than what residents already have. As one editorial writer recently asked: Why do we confuse the construction of a new building with progress?










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

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