Friday, July 07, 2006

Cautionary Tale for Wal-Mart in Monsey

With consultants for the proposed Wal-Mart super center doing their evaluation of the store's impact, opponents are gearing up to challenge the "findings" and generate the kind of grass roots opposition that Ramapo electeds will find hard to ignore. Aside from the Alliance and its allies a group from Monsey (not yet identified) has hired attorney Dennis Lynch to represent them in the land use process. Our suspicion is that the group is not any rag-tag outfit if they've come up with Lynch's retainer.

In any case the Alliance's consultant, Brian Ketcham, has outlined a series of issues that the Wal-Mart experts will need to address. The most serious it appears to us involves parking. As we have said before the current parking variance request is for the reduction of the number of spaces needed for the store. As Ketcham says, "If Wal-Mart fails to provide sufficient parking, shoppers will spill over onto Route 59 and into nearby residential communities."

In addition, as per usual in these kinds of developments, the consultants are only looking at a three mile radius from the proposed site. As Ketcham points out, "Wal-Mart will draw from at least a 10 mile radius and must use a study area 10 miles in radius."

Finally, the key issue of socio-economic impact will be a crucial variable because of the slew of minority and Orthodox-owned businesses in the trade area. Lynch tells us that his group will be retaining an expert to evaluate this important issue, and the Alliance may also collaborate in this regard. We're curious to see how the Walmonster's consultants will handle this delicate concern.

In any case we will be meeting with local merchants next Wednesday evening in Monsey. The organizing drive among retailers is going well- no one is happy about the development or sanguine about its salutary impact. Stay tuned for time and place.