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2002-03-02
Kilbuck, PA. Neighbors Say Kilbuck Wal-Mart's a Killer

Dave Blackson, the chairman of the Kilbuck, Pennsylvania Board of Supervisors thinks a Wal-Mart supercenter is good for the taxpayers of his town. No regional economic impact study has been done, but he's counting on making a killing in Kilbuck. But he's surrounded by communities that think he's dead wrong. Here's a report from one resident, Dr. Sean McLinden, in the neighboring town of Glenfield: "Kilbuck, a sleepy little community (population 723) in Western Pennsylvania wants to clear 510 acres of hilly wooded, property overlooking the Ohio River in order to attract Wal-Mart as an anchor for a retail shopping district. There are already 2 Wal-Marts within 10 miles of here, by highway (so access is not an issue). Kilbuck is doing this because they have no commerce, to speak of, and so must generate their revenues via property taxes (and ticketing speeders along Route 65 which is four lanes, unlimited access, 45 mph). Kilbuck is, literally, landlocked. To get to the Wal-Mart will require motorists to arrive through one or more other communities who have no vote in the matter but who will have to put up with the loss of revenue to small businesses, the traffic and the gray water run-off from the 10,000 car parking lot. My town, Glenfield, is one of the communities affected (Glenfield was, once before, almost destroyed when Interstate 79 construction took away 90% of the town, reducing the population from 2,000 to 200. What is left is one 300-slip marina, one barbershop and a VFW where, for $25 bucks a year, you can get $0.50 beers. Allegheny County has hundreds of municipalities, each of which has its own government and own zoning." The Mayor of Glenfield (pop. 236), Steve Zingerman, found out about this supercenter project from reading the Pittsburg Tribune newspaper, not from his neighboring officials. Zingerman has said publicly that he opposes the destruction of the site of a historic hospital just to create another supercenter, since they are already close at hand. Zingerman says Wal-Mart is responsible for killing off "oodles" of small businesses, according to the Tribune. Residents in surrounding towns say they will get all the traffic and the negative economic impacts from this project, and therefore they should be at the table. "If there was an argument for regionalization," said resident Sean McLinden, "this is it." The Mayor of Glenfield says he is working on a meeting with officials in nearby Aleppo, which borders Glenfield, and with representatives of the the Allegheny Land Trust, based in Pittsburg. "Businesses can't compete with these people," Zingerman told the Tribune-Review. "I'm not a socialist, but some competition is unfair."

What you can do: This case reminds me of the IKEA furniture store battle in New Rochelle and Mamaroneck (search newsflash by those names), in which Mamaroneck passed an ordinance that said New Rochelle could not approve a major development that affected their community without Mamoroneck's approval. To my knowledge, the Mamaroneck law has never been tested in court. IKEA pulled out of the project, so the case never went to court. If the hospital on the site is historic, and if the land in Kilbuck is not zoned commercially, the Wal-Mart project could have problems. This case will demonstrate if Kilbuck is a good neighbor, or just good to Wal-Mart. For contacts in the Kilbuck controversy, email info@sprawl-busters.com










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

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