Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Suburban Super Wal-Mart Update

A couple months ago we reported on Wal-Mart’s decision to open up a supercenter in Spring Valley, in the suburbs just north of New York City. Due to traffic, planning and small business concerns, the town’s mayor and county legislator are both very leery of the project.

According to our discussions with county officials, the town’s planning board will most likely issue a “positive declaration” within the month forcing the Wal-Mart developer to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). However, this decision can be overruled by the town board so we will be pressuring the supervisor and other board members to uphold any positive declaration.

The need to environmentally review a Super Wal-Mart should be obvious especially in this case. Considering the development would be on busiest local road in the county, with one of the highest number of traffic accidents, an independent analysis is key. Furthermore, we have learned that the developer is actually petitioning to reduce the number of required parking spaces, something that would exacerbate the predicted traffic problems.

In addition to our continued political outreach, we will be contacting the various small businesses that would be impacted by a Wal-Mart. Many of these stores are owned and patronized by the tight-knit and influential Orthodox Jewish community in the area and, as this Washington Post article highlights, Wal-Mart has been adept at dominating various business sectors including religious items. For this reason as well as others, the world’s largest retailer may find stiffer resistance in Spring Valley than it anticipated.