Up Against the Wal

From Mark Barroso:

I would like to remind everyone of the citizen-organized meeting about a possible Wal-Mart in north Chatham on Thursday, 7/28 at 7 pm at the Dockside Restaurant in Cole Park Plaza. Former Chatham Commission Chair Gary Phillips will moderate the discussion. The Chatham County Planning Director and at least one commissioner will attend and answer questions.

Several presenters will explain the process and issues, we will organize our opposition and begin the fight to keep the godzilla of retail from stomping on our community.

Please come early and buy dinner at Dockside, in support of the owner who has opened his doors to us without charge.

For those who don't know, Lee-Moore Oil Co is planning a retail center with a Walmart, two restaurants and yet another gas station on the land between ALR and the new UNC park and ride. Here's a map of the area (cool new Google map feature learned at yesterday's Blogging Teach-In)

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Total votes: 390

Comments

George,

Actually, biochemists wouldn't spend their adult lives working on Viagra knock-offs (or "jounalists" writing puff pieces on Wal-Mart fashion offerings) if they personally had the native intelligence to do something worthwhile. People who waste their time in service to artificial (and often damaging) bs shouldn't be viewed as victims of the marketplace.

Mark

Mark,
Biochemists wouldn't be spending their adult lives working to develop a drug to compete with Viagra unless the drug companies were fairly certain that they could sell it. Unfortunately, the retailers and marketers have done such a good job of convincing Americans that they need things which they don't that a tremendous amount of effort and expertise is spent on items that contribute little to global welfare or quality of life (although I suspect they contribute significantly to the quality of life of many executives).

Does anyone know why Thursday from 7-9 is the official time slot for all things political? :)
Several times in the last month I've been confronted with multiple events at the same time, then nothing until the following Thursday. Just curious.

Wow, that article is some piece of work. As soon as I got it on screen, my monitor started to slowly rise up off of my desk.

I must admit that I have a hard time squaring the notion that our universities and schools are great institutions that deserve our appreciation and support whenever I see end-products of the graduates' work like this insulting and trivial bullshit. It's like spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to train a bio-chemist and have them spend their adult life on a drug to compete with Viagra. What a waste.

Hi Terri,
Could you do me a favor? Could you explain based on the map you linked EXACTLY where the WalMart will be located?
Thanks,
Robert

Robert,

Here's the Proposed Walmart Site in closer detail. Lee Moore's property runs from Smith Level Road down to (almost) Woodbridge on the east side of 15-501. Hope this helps.

Thanks. That's right down the street. Zoinks. We think traffic is bad now...

Hey, All,

Has anybody heard anything from our own county commissioners? I know Ed's talked to Barry, and I had a brief conversation with Alice about this a while back, but haven't heard a peep since. Anyone... Anyone?

See Y'all Thursday.
Cheers,
Alex

I wonder if the News and Observer will write an "above the fold" article as kindly extensive about Chatham's Colepark's Popes as today's thinly veiled PR piece on local Wally-world "cheap chic"?

Mark,
Your comments are right on the mark (pardon the pun) but I would modify your statement to say that "competent" biochemists wouldn't waste their time... Unfortunately, though, even competent scientists often submit to the pressures of raising a family, etc. and begin to convince themselves that their professional endeavors, even for targets such as Viagra knockoffs, have some redeeming social value. After all, would a Fortune 500 company be pursuing it otherwise?
And this issue is not confined to the basic scientists (or journalists), either. For instance, I know of several medical students that are planning to go into plastic surgery and defend their choice (it's interesting that they all feel obligated to do so) by saying that the face-lifts, tummy-tucks, and augmentations will allow them the financial freedom to do the occasional cleft palate on a pro bono basis. Sadly, it seems that more and more of the important decisions in life are being decided by the bottom line.
For me, the issue is not whether we want a Wal-Mart or not, but rather, what are the values that we as a society want to embrace and, having established those, what companies share those values.

The recent news stories of the defection of several unions
from the AFL-CIO brought out some illuminating comments
by a union official: When unions were strong, a
blue-collar worker, buttressed by his union, could earn
enough money to buy a house and send his kids to college.
According to him, the union was the ticket to the American
dream. I don't know if I fully agree with that, but I agree
fully with his next statement, namely that
today, with the Wal-Mart society, the dream is impossible
for the lower-educated workers, since the pay is low, and
health benefits are becoming scarce.

I wish someone would analyze the fringe benefit package of WalMart employees, including whether most of them are restricted to work fewer hours than the minimum at which the fringes kick in.

So in today's paper there is a story stating that WalMArt is not interested in coming to N Chatham.What's up with that? Does anyone one know? Does this mean that Wal Mart is not the store looking at the site but maybe Target or another big box is?
Jacquie

Jacqui--Walmart isn't proposing to build a space at Starpoint. Lee Moore Oil Co., a development corporation that has built several other Walmarts, is proposing the site. "Our real estate holdings include Wal-Mart-anchored shopping centers, strip shopping centers and other rental and investment properties."

If this becomes a fight only about Walmart, we could find ourselves having to accept another big box retail on the site. To me the traffic and environmental problems of building a large new development on the site is the REAL problem--regardless of whether its Walmart or Target or Costco that moves in.

Thanks for clearing that up Terri
Jacquie

I second Terri's concern about ANY big box at that location posing significant traffic and potential environmental problems. From a Chatham perspective, it's also about sense of community and sound planning. We don't want our community to become a sprawling stretch of uninteresting pavement and cement (read: ugly) like the stretch from Durham to CH.

By the way, ABC11 just came by... they are running a story on our anti-big box-at-this-location thread. I'm not sure when it will air - it was supposed to be on at 12noon, but was bumped for "breaking news" in Durham.

[quote]"At this time it is my understanding that we have no intention of filing for any permits in this area," Glen Wilkins, a community affairs manager for Wal-Mart based in Atlanta said Monday.[/quote]

Anyone who has taken any law class at all (or just has a lick of sense) will read that statement and arrive at the following conclusion - it doesn't mean ANYTHING.

"At this time" - simply means that "right at this moment, while I'm talking to you on the cellphone, I don't have the information in front of me."

"It is my understanding" - BIG loophole here. Allows deniability in the future - "I'm sorry, but I never said we never had plans, I just never knew."

"no intention of filing for any permits in this area" - doesn't say we're not going to. And why does the term "permits" even come up? It's very possible that all the paperwork and permits will be handled by Lee-Moore.

This guy is a "community affairs manager" - basicly a PR front man. The reporter needed to get to someone in the WalMart store planning department.

Bunkey vs Gary II

Looks like the ground is being set for the big political clash in Chatham County's commisioner elections in 2006.

Until that hapens, good buddies Bunkey and Gary are crashing weddings and we have the video to prove it -

http://www.weddingcrashersmovie.com/crashthistrailer/index.htm?id=105284

From Mark Barroso:

Chatham First will join thousands of other grassroots organizations and show the much anticipated release of Robert Greenwald's movie, "Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Prices" on 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 15, at the Dockside Restaurant. Discussion of local issues to follow. Come early to eat dinner and support our supporter.

The Independent Weekly will also be publishing a lead story on our efforts to stop Wal Mart and the nationwide effort to reform its business practices.

Greenwald's movie makes a powerful case against the world's largest retailer, and has inspired an unprecedented counter-attack by Wal Mart (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/01/business/01walmart.ready.html). Come and find out what the fuss is about. The movie will be free, but we hope everyone will donate at least $5 to our efforts.

The other momentous event on our calendar is the consideration by our Board of Commissioners to implement the 10/70 Rule and Conditional Zoning on Monday, November 21. We need to make our voices heard. Here's what Loyse Hurley, of CCEC, wrote about it:

November 21st is the public hearing date for both the proposed 10/70 Rule and the proposed Conditional Zoning ordinances changes. Both proposed changes in the Chatham County Ordinances will impact a potential Wal Mart or big box store. The combined effect of the two ordinances are a disaster!

You have heard about the 10/70 Rule and it's impervious surface impact. The other shoe to drop is Conditional Zoning. Conditional Zoning would allow the Board of Commissioners to approve every development - commercial or residential - without a Conditional Use Permit. All development would come under the legislative authority of the Commissioners. This effectively removes ALL possibilities of any law suits on what they've approved. There are no criteria for approval by the Commissioners. Currently, now when a development is approved under a Conditional Use Permit, there are the 5 findings that the Commissioners must make and citizens can file a law suit on the basis that they haven't met these 5 findings.

Since Conditional Zoning changes the approval process from the current Quasi -judicial one to a pure legislative one, we will lose the ability to sue if Conditional Zoning is enacted.

So bottom line, if both ordinances are enacted:

Wal Mart comes in and requests approval under both the 10/70 rule and as a Conditional Zoning request. 10/70 allows for their parking lot, etc. Conditional Zoning leaves approval solely up to the Commissioners (guess which way that goes?) and no one can stop it, because a law suit isn't available to the citizens after the approval.

That's why we need to protest loudly over both issues. At a minimum, we need turn out to the meeting and speakers who sign up to speak and say "Don't approve this change!" They need to stay until the end of the meeting on the 21st and speak to each ordinance. (They won't be considered together, they'll finish the hearing on one then hold the second hearing on the other.)

Please make plans to attend both events.

Does anyone know enough about the difference between Conditional Use Permits and Conditional Zoning to be able to comment on the statement made above:

"Since Conditional Zoning changes the approval process from the current Quasi -judicial one to a pure legislative one, we will lose the ability to sue if Conditional Zoning is enacted."

The standard for review of a legislative matter (like a zoning ordinance text or map amendment) is much narrower than for a quasi-judicial matter (like review of a conditional use permit). if it is a legislative matter, the court will look at 1)whether the ordinance was authorized by law, and 2)did the board follow the statutory procedure.

In a quasi-judicial matter, the court will look at the actual subject matter, the evidence presented by both sides, comments by board members, etc.

Nice, Gerry! I so wish I could write as lucidly as you. My grades on law school exams would be much better.

Gerry,

In the text of the revised ordinance, the new zoning ordinance calls for a public hearing but doesn't specify any actions required to be taken on the comments made at the hearing. Do you think that's an oversight or standard practice? At least with the conditional use permits, there were 5 findings that had to be addressed, making it appear (to my untrained eye at least) that the conditional use process has more public accountability than the zoning ordinance.

 

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