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2001-10-03
Clemson, SC. Plug Pulled on Wal-Mart

Jim Witte, a sprawl-buster in Clemson, South Carolina, forwards this report of a victory against Wal-Mart: "As you may recall our City Council refused to give in to Wal-Mart regarding rezoning of land on the Issaqueena Trail. At the same time we were pursuing environmental appeals at the State level. These were important because WM continued to threaten the City with lawsuits and with the use of another site (about 1/4 mile away) just outside the city. The State Department of Health and Environmental Control staff had granted WM a storm water management permit for the site. Our appeal was denied by a State Administrative Law Judge so we took our appeal to the DHEC board -- an appointed body with the final authority concerning environmental issues in the state. On Thursday, by a 5-1 vote the Board voted to pull the permit. Two members of the Board spoke quite strongly against WM's action and stated they were disappointed and disheartened by WM's actions in Clemson. One member is quoted in the Greenville paper as saying: "When staff evaluates sites for development, they need to take into consideration what's going into that site," said Mark Kent, a DHEC board member from Greenville, "Wal-Mart in that location under those criteria was going to damage the environment." The board's vote to deny the permit needs to be seen in a context where they could also have remanded the matter back to staff -- asking for modifications in the permit. Instead the motion was stated so as to deny the permit and carried in that fashion. According to the DHEC attorney this means that WM can NOT apply for another permit on this site. The decision may, in fact, set new precedents for environmental protection in SC. In the words of one Board member: "People can meet the requirements of a permit and the DHEC Board can still say 'No.' If we approve this permit we are not looking out for the health and environment of the State of South Carolina." According to the Greenville News, the state action "pulled a permit and possibly the plug Thursday on a controversial Clemson Wal-Mart supercenter." The newspaper quotes Wal-Mart spokeswoman Daphne Davis as saying: "We're certainly surprised. We're disappointed with the board's decision. We're going to have to take some time and look at what our options are." The DHEC board denied a storm water permit. Wal-Mart can appeal in the courts. The citizens argued that an adjacent stream would be harmed during and after construction. Grading the hilly terrain would cause sedimentation, and runoff of gasoline and oil would pollute the stream with hydrocarbons. Another Wal-Mart option is development of a second proposed site about a quarter mile away. Witte said "If they want to try another site, we'll get the facts. From what we know about the facts,the other site is not in the environmental interests of South Carolina."

What you can do: For more information about Clemson's battle to unplug Wal-Mart, contact info@sprawl-busters.com.










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

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