Wal-Mart at the gates

Starpoint The closest you can get to Chapel Hill and Carrboro while still being in Chatham County is Starpoint. The intersection of Smith Level Road and 15-501 is at the county line. Starpoint is also the proposed location of a new Wal-Mart.

Elected officials in Chapel Hill and Carrboro have already asked Chatham County to allow them to conduct a courtesy review. This would allow them to formally have input, although it is not binding. According to the News & Observer "This is the first I've heard about that," Morgan said when asked about Chapel Hill's plans to request a review. "I didn't know they did that type of stuff."

Which is exactly why we should be very worried.

OP reader WillR shared the contact info of the company that proposes to build this "retail development... big enough for a Wal-Mart." You may also want to drop a line to good old Bunkey Morgan and let him know about this new-fangled democracy that may be coming his way.

Lee-Moore Oil Company
PO Drawer 9
Sanford, NC 27331
(919) 775-2301
(919) 774-6967


Terri - to place a shopping center at this site, the developer would need the 40 acre portion rezoned to B1 (from RA40) only; no Conditional Use Permit is needed. Conditional Use Districts are requested for "special" conditions (see the Chatham Co. zoning ordinance at http://www.co.chatham.nc.us/dept/planning/planning_dept/ordinances/docum...) . For instance, RA40 is a residential zoning district that allows certain "special" uses (like planned unit developments, golf courses, camp grounds, etc.) on a case-by-case basis. In this case, B1 is the only zoning district that allows retail centers. Thus the developers would need to is apply for rezoning (since retail center is an allowed use in B1 districts), which requires a legislative decision by the Commissioners.

If you'd like to read more about legislative vs. quasi-judicial decisions, David Owens at the UNC Institute of Government has some helpful information posted at http://www.iog.unc.edu/organizations/planning/keyissues/board.pdf.

Is anyone on OP familiar with protest petitions?

"G.S. 160A-385(a) provides that if a sufficient number of those most immediately affected by a zoning change-the owners of 20 percent of the land in a qualifying area-object to a proposed zoning amendment, the amendment may be adopted only if approved by three-fourths of all the members of the governing board." (David Owens at http://www.iog.unc.edu/organizations/planning/keyissues/protst.htm)

It seems, though, that at the county level the law is somewhat different:

"The provision in North Carolina zoning law for a protest petition, G.S. 160A-385(a), is mandatory for cities. There is no specific statutory authorization (and therefore some question[1] about statutory authority) for the protest petition in the county zoning-enabling legislation. Rather, the parallel county provision, G.S. 153A-344(a), substitutes a mandatory review by the planning board for the protest petition. Still, a few counties have included provisions for protest petitions in their zoning ordinances."

For a compilation of news relative to Wal-Mart issues and goings-on, see: http://www.wakeupwalmart.com/news/.

See also the Research site at Wake Up Walmart, which focuses on economic impact and social issues: http://www.wakeupwalmart.com/research/.

Hi Allison,

Thanks for your informative posts.

Do you have information on groups/organizations in Chatham that are mobilizing to fight this development?

Any thoughts on the formation of an Orange/Chatham coalition with Mark Barroso and representatives from Carrboro and Chapel Hill (see post further up)?

Here's a map of the site (provided by OWASA) showing contour lines, streams, and landownership.
http://www.unc.edu/~tbuckner/starpoint.pdf (large file)

Mary et al. ~ I know that folks in Chatham are following what develops relative to the Lee-Moore Oil Co. site, and that CCEC (Chatham Citizens for Effective Communities - see http://www.chathamcitizens.org/) has sent out an alert to its followers. Chatham County United (the folks who are know for fighting Cary annexation) has forwarded that same alert to its members. I have written to Commissioners Mike Cross and Patrick Barnes, who just recently found out about the supposed plans for this site via the Herald Sun and N&O articles about it. They claim to know nothing more.

I spoke with Mark Barroso last week (Mark - are you there?) and he proposed getting Cole Park business owners mobilized, as they have a lot to lose.

One problem with being more proactive is that we really don't know exactly what we're up against. We've been hearing rumors about Wal-Mart at the County line for the last year now. No plan has been seen (by those outside DOT, presumably), and it's not clear if rezoning will be needed. And given what usually happens in Chatham, whatever is planned for this site is going to pop up suddenly, and we'll have little time to react.

Thanks, Terri, for posting the map of the site. I had not realized that UNC had acquired all those small parcels between Old Lystra Road and the Lee-Moore Oil Co. tract. I guess you all may be aware that Lee-Moore Oil Co. also owns the ALR Electronics property. I'm a little worried that UNC will give in to the developer's request for an easement.

Anyone contacted Joe Hackney about all this? He owns part of Starpoint, doesn't he? And has anyone been in touch with folks who live adjacent to the site - like those in the Sun Forest community?

Ray Gronberg, Ed Neely, and other apparent defenders of Walmart will be please to know that Wal-Mart Hires Justice Scalia's Son for Whistle-Blower Suits

I had an interesting conversation with UNC Associate Vice-Chancellor for Facilities Planning Bruce Runberg on Friday. He indicated that there has been a conversation between UNC and Lee-Moore Oil Co (the folks who own the possible Wal-Mart site), but that there was no discussion of possible access across UNC's property. In this conversation, Lee-Moore Oil expressed their desire and intention to seek DOT's permission to build a driveway on their own property (ie not on UNC's property). Lee-Moore Oil indicated that their purpose in calling on the University was to learn about UNC's Park-and-Ride lot and UNC's future plans for the site.

I told Runberg that if, in the future, UNC were to have any conversations with Lee-Moore Oil about access through UNC's property, then it would be important and appropriate for UNC to also discuss that issue with Carrboro, Chapel Hill and the local business community about that issue. He said that he felt sure that UNC is not presently considering the issue and that UNC is not on the verge of making a decision about the matter.

Thought ya'll would be interested to know.

Dan, nothing in my comment in any way defends Walmart. I merely made the point that in some ways, every county puts a burden on other counties. And in this way, perhaps Orange County has put a greater burden on Chatham. I would wager not many low income families work in Chatham County and live in Orange.

I'm hoping someone here can help me understand how the money is typically distributed between landowner, developer, and franchises such as Walmart.

1. Lee-Moore owns the land--does the landowner typically retain ownership or sell to the developer?

2. Who pays for all the planning--the developer or split between developer and landowner and targeted franchise (if one exists)?

3. Once the construction is complete--who owns the land? Is it common to see 'rent' paid as a percentage of receipts?

4. Who would you recommend I talk to in order to get a more detailed understanding of who is making the money and who is risking the money on the various stages of development? Ultimately what I want to understand is whether there could potentially be as much profit in building something smaller with multiple spaces--another strip mall for lack of a better term.

Just flew in last night. Alka-Seltzer, anyone (why, yes, I'll have just one more helping of jambalaya--- *burp*)?

2 items:

1. In a bit of irony, Mark B. was also in La. covering hurricane Dennis for NBC. Sez he'll work on setting a date and place for the initial meeting. Waiting to hear back.

2. Ray has gotten a copy of the Traffic Impact Analysis submitted by the developers' engineers from the Asheboro DOT office. It has some truly eye-popping numbers---I gather he's going to publish tomorrow, so I won't spoil it. I've asked Mark Ahrendsen (DCHC MPO)to get a hold of the document, and set the MPO staff to running their own analysis (as I've described above) ASAP.


Maybe Ray will grace us with a link to the report after he publishes tomorrow? It'll be interesting to see how the numbers look when the Briar Chapel stats are added.

Now, all we need is the numbers from UNC's Park-n-Ride to get an idea of what the future Starpoint snarl will look like.

Final build out on the park and ride is 965. The first phase, to be completed this fall, will support 600+. There is not yet a projected date for the balance.

Fred--as far as I'm concerned it doesn't matter whether Aaron Nelson said "some people" or the community. I take it as a matter of fact. However, if you or Aaron or anyone else are concerned that I misrepresented the paraphrased paraphrase, I apologize.

Eye popping? More like gut wrenching! Quite a barrage of bad news.

I won't spoil the article by going into the details except for one point:

...21,600 car trips each day... 30 percent of the traffic would come from the south up 15-501...

Add in the conservative

Meanwhile, town officials are nervously eyeing a consultant's prediction that 77 percent of the 6,500 additional peak-hour vehicle trips the development will create will use U.S. 15-501 to go to and from Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham, Cary and Research Triangle Park.

All told, the project is expected to lead to 31,500 additional daily trips.

estimates or more realistic traffic increase from Briar Chapel - 24,000 to 50,000 additional daily trips alone - plus northbound UNC Park-n-Ride generated trips (Patrick? Terri?) and end up with less a snarl and more a logjam.

Ray, quite an action packed report. Could the HS put the underlying docs out there for the OP crowd to peruse?

Any stats reported by Ramey & Kemp Associates need to be carefully scrutinized. They are the company of choice for big Chatham developers (Briar Chapel, Booth Mountain, etc.) and Chatham citizens (including myself) have shot big holes through their studies. For their assessment of Booth Mountain traffic impacts, for example, they based the baseline, current traffic on Lystra Road on traffic counts conducted during one 24-hr period in the summer. Anyone who knows Lystra Road knows that there is a K-8 school on Lystra, and that the majority of parents drive their kids to and from school... so traffic counts taken on ONE day in the middle of SUMMER (when school is out and folks are vacationing) are ridiculously low.

To prove RK wrong, my neighbors and I conducted a study ourselves - we actually took shifts counting traffic. We even had a radar gun one neighbor purchased from a sporting goods store to show the nember of the cars counted that were exceeding the speed limit!

Ray reports that this parcel will need to be rezoned, so Chatham Commissioners may have a say after all. But there is a 3-vote majority who vote for anything that's requested by developers, so I don't hold out much hope they'd deny the request. The 3 in power are up for re-election, however...

Also worth mentioning is that at last night's Planning Board meeting there was some discussion regarding the adoption of the 5/70 or 10/70 watershed rule for WS-IV in Chatham. This is apalling to me considering that the current state of Jordan Lake. The discussion was apparently tabled, to be continue at the August PB meeting, but it's raised suspicions on how it would be used. Someone mentioned UNC wanting to use the rule for the Park N Rides; if so, you can be sure that Wal-Mart would too!

UNC was not required to conduct a feasibility study (per DOT engineer). The reasoning is that they do not generate enough traffic throughout the day--peak times only don't count. The park and ride will have 5 driveway entrances--2 for buses only (left turn off 15-501, right turn back to town; 1 right turn only; 1 onto Old Lystra (primary) and eventually another one at Woodbridge (new light planned).

The DOT engineer also says that the Lee Moore TFI was required to include all estimates for developments approved (estimated population increase of 9,000) at the time they did their study. Unfortunately, he didn't remember when that study was conducted but he thinks it was about 6 months ago. What we need is for someone to check all the TFIs done for Briar Chapel, Chatham Downs, and the other two housing developments and make sure they are consistent. I doubt it. As I recall there was a lot of skepticism about the Briar Chapel Study.

The 10/70 rule Allison refers to is a transfer rights program supported by the Environmental Management Commission. It allows a town/county to build larger developments in some areas of the town/county designated watershed zone in exchange for protection of larger tracts in other areas of the town/county. http://h2o.enr.state.nc.us/wswp/

To get an idea of what subdivisions have been approved in Chatham the past two years see:


For traffic data for some of the larger developments approved in 2004, namely Briar Chapel, Booth Mountain, and Williams Pond, see:


Big developments approved in 2005 include Meadowview

Oh, and don't forget Meadowview, Chapel Ridge (aka Buck Mountain), River Oaks,... the list goes on!

The Chatham Citizens for Effective Communities (CCEC) has a nicely organized list of some of the bigger developments at http://www.chathamcitizens.org/Development_Watch.htm.

OK, I'm reading the UC-Berkeley study Dan referenced above and have noticed two things:

1). The study is not exactly germane to my original query ("Is there any evidence that Wal-Mart pays employees worse, counting all salary and benefits, than the small retailers it displaces?") because it compares Wal-Mart's salaries and benefits to those offered by other large retailers (according to the UC researchers, those with > 1000 employees). For the moment, I'm not all that interested in how Wal-Mart compares to Food Lion or Harris Teeter; I am interested in how it compares to the mom-and-pop, homegrown businesses everyone seems worried about going under. My impression, based on my small-town South Carolina experience, is that the only people who make decent money working retail for a mom-and-pop are mom and pop, and sometimes not even them. But that was then and this is now, and in any event anecdote is no substitute for data. If anyone has some data that's on point, I'd appreciate it.

2). It seems from the Berkeley study that Wal-Mart was paying Arkansas-level wages in the San Francisco area. The problems inherent in that approach are obvious to anyone familiar with the Bay Area's cost of living. However, what's the story when they pay Arkansas-level wages in Arkansas (or, to pick a random example, Chatham County?)

Different topic: Can anyone guess which local leader/personage-about-town said the following to me in an interview today:

"I'm not a Wal-Mart fan. ... They're blights on the landscape, they disrupt the social fabric of communities and they certainly disrupt the economic fabric."

Post your guesses here or send them to me at gronberg@heraldsun.com. Correct guesses get only a modicum of public recognition and the satisfaction of being right.

OK, Gang, it's on---Just got the following from Mark B.:

Dear activists:
I think it is time for all of us who oppose Wal-Mart's intentions on 15/501 to have a meeting. I am proposing 7 pm Thursday, July 28 at the Dockside restaurant at Cole Park Plaza. The previous night, Wednesday July 27 is the second choice. Please check your calendars. By the end of the day tomorrow, Thursday the 14th, we will commit to one or the other.
Gary Phillips has agreed to facilitate the meeting. We will attempt to present all of the known information on this project and how we as citizens can affect the process (including how communities elsewhere have won their battles to keep out Wal-Mart). We hope to provide resources for activists to not only lobby their state and local governments, but their fellow citizens as well. Let's face it, many, if not most, people have not been informed or convinced that a Wal-Mart in their neighborhood is a bad thing, and I believe this is as important as anything we can do.
This will also be an organizational meeting in which roles and responsibilities will be decided.
Along with Gary, I am coordinating this first meeting. We can debate who will lead this effort at the meeting. So for now, if you have suggestions for the agenda or wish to make a presentation, reply to me, not "up against the wal."
I have included elected officials, community activist groups and individuals from Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Chatham on this email. If I have omitted anyone it is by accident, so please encourage all interested parties to come (after we pick the date). I will also post the meeting to the numerous chat lists and the various neighborhood list serves I have accumulated in my work with the Chatham Coalition. We will also invite the press.
I have also been in contact with many of the business owners in the area of Cole Park Plaza, and all have expressed an interest in coming to this meeting. In fact, John Dimos, the owner of Dockside, has graciously allowed us to use his restaurant for free (he's hoping we will eat and drink, however). I will secure a PA system for the meeting.
Let's get the ball rolling. Time's a wasting.

Mark Barroso

"Is there any evidence that Wal-Mart pays employees worse, counting all salary and benefits, than the small retailers it displaces?" I think your question is community specific. The small retailers that will be displaced by this Walmart are partially in Chatham and partially in Carrboro. I believe Carrboro strongly encourages new businesses to pay a living wage vs. Chatham where I imagine most retail workers make minimum wage.

I also think the question needs to look beyond salary/benefits to include the overall tax base in the community--a figure which directly affects property tax rates and cost of services available in the community when small businesses close. So if Chapel Hill Tire closes down, north Chatham residents can either drive into Chapel Hill/Carrboro or down to the shop in Bynum--and probably pay more than they would have at Chapel Hill Tire, including the additional drive time/gas. So a secondary question I would encourage you to be asking is "what impact does Walmart have on the overall economy of the community?"


Roy Williams?

Alex, I highly suggest you invite Moses Carey to your meeting. I understand he has an eexcellent working relationship with Lee Morre Oil from the Governer's Club project.

Posted July 13 2005,20:43, by Gene Galin on the Chatham County Bulletin Board --
The Wal-Mart You Don't Know

The giant retailer's low prices often come with a high cost. Wal-Mart's relentless pressure can crush the companies it does business with and force them to send jobs overseas. Are we shopping our way straight to the unemployment line?
From: Issue 77 | December 2003 | Page 68 By: Charles Fishman Photographs by: Livia Corona

A gallon-sized jar of whole pickles is something to behold. The jar is the size of a small aquarium. The fat green pickles, floating in swampy juice, look reptilian, their shapes exaggerated by the glass. It weighs 12 pounds, too big to carry with one hand. The gallon jar of pickles is a display of abundance and excess; it is entrancing, and also vaguely unsettling. This is the product that Wal-Mart fell in love with: Vlasic's gallon jar of pickles.

Wal-Mart priced it at $2.97--a year's supply of pickles for less than $3! "They were using it as a 'statement' item," says Pat Hunn, who calls himself the "mad scientist" of Vlasic's gallon jar. "Wal-Mart was putting it before consumers, saying, This represents what Wal-Mart's about. You can buy a stinkin' gallon of pickles for $2.97. And it's the nation's number-one brand."

Therein lies the basic conundrum of doing business with the world's largest retailer. By selling a gallon of kosher dills for less than most grocers sell a quart, Wal-Mart may have provided a ser-vice for its customers. But what did it do for Vlasic? The pickle maker had spent decades convincing customers that they should pay a premium for its brand. Now Wal-Mart was practically giving them away. And the fevered buying spree that resulted distorted every aspect of Vlasic's operations, from farm field to factory to financial statement.

Indeed, as Vlasic discovered, the real story of Wal-Mart, the story that never gets told, is the story of the pressure the biggest retailer relentlessly applies to its suppliers in the name of bringing us "every day low prices." It's the story of what that pressure does to the companies Wal-Mart does business with, to U.S. manufacturing, and to the economy as a whole. That story can be found floating in a gallon jar of pickles at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart is not just the world's largest retailer. It's the world's largest company--bigger than ExxonMobil, General Motors, and General Electric. The scale can be hard to absorb. Wal-Mart sold $244.5 billion worth of goods last year. It sells in three months what

number-two retailer Home Depot sells in a year. And in its own category of general merchandise and groceries, Wal-Mart no longer has any real rivals. It does more business than Target, Sears, Kmart, J.C. Penney, Safeway, and Kroger combined. "Clearly," says Edward Fox, head of Southern Methodist University's J.C. Penney Center for Retailing Excellence, "Wal-Mart is more powerful than any retailer has ever been." It is, in fact, so big and so furtively powerful as to have become an entirely different order of corporate being.

Wal-Mart wields its power for just one purpose: to bring the lowest possible prices to its customers. At Wal-Mart, that goal is never reached. The retailer has a clear policy for suppliers: On basic products that don't change, the price Wal-Mart will pay, and will charge shoppers, must drop year after year. But what almost no one outside the world of Wal-Mart and its 21,000 suppliers knows is the high cost of those low prices. Wal-Mart has the power to squeeze profit-killing concessions from vendors. To survive in the face of its pricing demands, makers of everything from bras to bicycles to blue jeans have had to lay off employees and close U.S. plants in favor of outsourcing products from overseas.

Of course, U.S. companies have been moving jobs offshore for decades, long before Wal-Mart was a retailing power. But there is no question that the chain is helping accelerate the loss of American jobs to low-wage countries such as China. Wal-Mart, which in the late 1980s and early 1990s trumpeted its claim to "Buy American," has doubled its imports from China in the past five years alone, buying some $12 billion in merchandise in 2002. That's nearly 10% of all Chinese exports to the United States.

One way to think of Wal-Mart is as a vast pipeline that gives non-U.S. companies direct access to the American market. "One of the things that limits or slows the growth of imports is the cost of establishing connections and networks," says Paul Krugman, the Princeton University economist. "Wal-Mart is so big and so centralized that it can all at once hook Chinese and other suppliers into its digital system. So--wham!--you have a large switch to overseas sourcing in a period quicker than under the old rules of retailing."

Steve Dobbins has been bearing the brunt of that switch. He's president and CEO of Carolina Mills, a 75-year-old North Carolina company that supplies thread, yarn, and textile finishing to apparel makers--half of which supply Wal-Mart. Carolina Mills grew steadily until 2000. But in the past three years, as its customers have gone either overseas or out of business, it has shrunk from 17 factories to 7, and from 2,600 employees to 1,200. Dobbins's customers have begun to face imported clothing sold so cheaply to Wal-Mart that they could not compete even if they paid their workers nothing.

"People ask, 'How can it be bad for things to come into the U.S. cheaply? How can it be bad to have a bargain at Wal-Mart?' Sure, it's held inflation down, and it's great to have bargains," says Dobbins. "But you can't buy anything if you're not employed. We are shopping ourselves out of jobs."

[This is an excerpt - see http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/77/walmart.html for the full story]

Here's another portion of the article Allison refers to above that I think is most pertinent to Ray's question as well as the discussion on Orange County's business climate:

"Wal-Mart has also lulled shoppers into ignoring the difference between the price of something and the cost. Its unending focus on price underscores something that Americans are only starting to realize about globalization: Ever-cheaper prices have consequences. Says Steve Dobbins, president of thread maker Carolina Mills: "We want clean air, clear water, good living conditions, the best health care in the world--yet we aren't willing to pay for anything manufactured under those restrictions."

Randall Larrimore, a former CEO of MasterBrand Industries, the parent company of Master Lock, understands that contradiction too well. For years, he says, as manufacturing costs in the United States rose, Master Lock was able to pass them along. But at some point in the 1990s, Asian manufacturers started producing locks for much less. "When the difference is $1, retailers like Wal-Mart would prefer to have the brand-name padlock or faucet or hammer," Larrimore says. "But as the spread becomes greater, when our padlock was $9, and the import was $6, then they can offer the consumer a real discount by carrying two lines. Ultimately, they may only carry one line."

In January 1997, Master Lock announced that, after 75 years making locks in Milwaukee, it would begin importing more products from Asia. Not too long after, Master Lock opened a factory of its own in Nogales, Mexico. Today, it makes just 10% to 15% of its locks in Milwaukee--its 300 employees there mostly make parts that are sent to Nogales, where there are now 800 factory workers.

Larrimore did the first manufacturing layoffs at Master Lock. He negotiated with Master Lock's unions himself. He went to Bentonville. "I loved dealing with Wal-Mart, with Home Depot," he says. "They are all very rational people. There wasn't a whole lot of room for negotiation. And they had a good point. Everyone was willing to pay more for a Master Lock. But how much more can they justify? If they can buy a lock that has arguably similar qual-ity, at a cheaper price, well, they can get their consumers a deal."

It's Wal-Mart in the role of Adam Smith's invisible hand. And the Milwaukee employees of Master Lock who shopped at Wal-Mart to save money helped that hand shove their own jobs right to Nogales. Not consciously, not directly, but inevitably. "Do we as consumers appreciate what we're doing?" Larrimore asks. "I don't think so. But even if we do, I think we say, Here's a Master Lock for $9, here's another lock for $6--let the other guy pay $9."

Here's an interesting approach...We do not speak it's name?


The articles posted by Terri and Allison are noted. There is a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Siler City. What effect has it had there?

I watched this fascinating PBS special on the night of Carrboro's annexation hearing. For those who can't weed through it, I found the fundamental point in Bonacich's interview:

... What's the importance of the confrontation that's taking place over Wal-Mart's Supercenter in Inglewood, in Los Angeles? What's that all about? ...

The clash over whether the Supercenter should be allowed into Los Angeles is over fundamental values. Should consumerism -- should the right to buy goods cheaply -- be the overwhelming and predominant value that our society represents? Or should government play a role in looking for a balanced society that looks after multiple interests, that looks after protecting the well-being of workers, that looks after democratic participation in the workplace and in the community?
Wal-Mart, when they tried to win a referendum in Inglewood, was incredibly arrogant in terms of saying that they wanted all regulation by the city to be bypassed in their case. And I think that's one of the reasons why they lost with such a hefty vote, was the idea that they believed that the only thing that matters is cheap prices, that everybody would be willing to sell their souls for cheap prices. And that's not all that matters.

In the end, is Wal-Mart good for America?

I think, in the end, Wal-Mart and big-box retailers are driving a system that causes people to lose jobs, that causes a global system where cheapness is the only value that matters. And so all other human values are put in second, third, fourth, fifth place. And there are just so many other things that a society has to be about. It's not just about having a lot of stuff. It's not just about getting it very cheaply.
I mean, that very quality, the focus on consumerism is, in some sense, incredibly destructive. I can see it in my classroom, where kids feel that there is an incredible pressure on them just to make money in order to buy stuff. But they recognize that it's not the key to a full life; that a full life involves many other things. ...
Edna Bonacich is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Riverside

Ray--I understand what you are trying to do. If we can make this argument against Walmart concrete with local data, then it becomes a more powerful tool for educating everyone. However, I don't think Chatham or Alamance or even Durham has the data to help you make your case. As Mary's post above says, we are too entrenched in a culture of low cost and Walmart capitalizes on that customer desire. But customers and local governments are poorly informed on the non-visible impacts of low-cost shopping demands. Data on impact on a single community may or may not contribute to your effort, depending on the extent of competing markets prior to the entrance of a Walmart. The size of the market area also needs to be included in the calculations.

For example, with the Walmart under consideration here. If they run the small businesses in Cole Park and Chatham Crossing out, the number of impacted consumers is relatively small--as measured by the number of privilege licenses sold by Chatham. Any impact on Orange would be purely speculation since the service area in Carrboro is far enough away that lost privilege licenses wouldn't be immediately attributable to the Walmart.

The other losses, as identified in the article Allison and I excerpted last night, are either outside of local data (impact on distributors) or are not captured in any way (amount of property tax *loss* as a result of Orange residents shopping in Chatham).

If we figure out that this is going to be a lost fight, it would behoove us to contact the local employment security offices and the county finance offices to try and capture some of this data in order to help make the cases in other areas more concrete. If we can capture the number of unemployment claims or the number of current small business employees who move to Walmart and who then file for medicaid/medicare, unemployment, food stamps, etc., then we can more accurately answer the types of question you (Ray) are asking. I think they are great questions BTW.

Ray ~

According to a 2000 report on the Chatham County Community, conducted by students at UNC, the Wal-Mart in Siler City targets the buying power of the Latino population there (see http://www.hsl.unc.edu/phpapers/Chatham00/CDescription.htm).

Other interesting tidbits from this report:

" Most (81%) of Chatham's population of 45,204 lives in rural areas of the county, with only 19% living in towns: 13.2 % of the population lives in Siler City, 4.6 % lives in Pittsboro, and 1.2% reside in other towns (Chatham County Economic Development Commission Updated Report, 1999). Pittsboro, Siler City, and Goldston are the only three towns in Chatham County that are incorporated. Due to the proximity to Raleigh, Durham, Research Triangle Park, and Chapel Hill, over 46% of Chatham residents commute outside the county for employment. Based on the number of people employed, the major industries in the county are manufacturing (45%), retail trade (13.3%), services (13.2%), government (11.1%), and construction (6.8%). The companies with the largest workforce are poultry processors, followed by manufacturers of polyester fiber and hosiery, upholstery fabrics, and plastics (see Table 1). The following are the top contributors to the tax base in Chatham County: Carolina Power & Light Co., Allied Signal, Inc., Governor's Club, Carolina Meadows, Weyerhaeuser Co., and Mastercraft Fabrics Corp. (Chatham County Economic Development Commission Updated Report, 1999). Governor's Club, a gated community, and Carolina Meadows, a retirement community, are both located in Northern Chatham and are the third and fourth largest sources of tax revenue for the county. This demonstrates the importance of real estate development in Chatham County."

"Small businesses are also a vital part of the economic health of the county with 832 businesses each employing under 49 employees. Many of these smaller businesses specialize in wood processing, furniture production, electronics, software and Internet consulting, steel fabrication, and machining."

For Table of Contents of this report, see http://www.hsl.unc.edu/phpapers/Chatham00/Chatham.htm

Ray ~ Here's a 1996 article from the Chapel Hill News that documents the decline of a local small business in Chapel Hill as a result of area big boxes, including Wal-Mart:


Note that the exerpt of the original article is posted on a UNC Economics class website - Wal-Mart is a feature of the curriculum.

Alex, can you please post the confirmed meeting date when you have it?

And, does anyone wonder if there will be a corporate spy there?

As requested by several people, the CHH/H-S has digitized the Ramey Kemp transportation study and will be putting it up on the Web. Further details (i.e., the URL) will be forthcoming when they're available to me.

Thanks Ray. Now, if we could just get the LTE's back online ;-)!

The Herald-Sun editorial and IT staffs have created a "Hot Topics" section linked to the paper's home page on the Web that will collect all of our stories and editorials on the Wal-Mart saga in one place. Best guess is that the traffic study and documents associated with it will appear there.

The link to the Hot Topics section is http://www.heraldsun.com/hottopics/topicpage.cfm?TopicID=68.

Ask and ye shall receive: The TIA is now up in the Hot Topics section noted above. The direct URL is http://www.heraldsun.com/hottopics/docs/article1.pdf. There are some associated memos and a drawing that are in separate PDFs. Be warned that the TIA itself is a 4 meg download.

Hey, All,

Soon as I have a date from Mark Barroso, I'll put it up.

On the Corporate Spy angle, I don't know who's likely to show up, or how to prevent it, given the fairly public fashion in which we're cobbling this together. How do y'all think we should handle this issue?

Also, if folks have suggestions for format and information, just let Mark B. know.

BTW: Just talked to Dianne Reid of the O.C. Economic Development Commission, and they're very concerned.
Diane's office tracks very detailed data in many of the areas that we have discussed here for their annual State of the Local Economy report. They may be a helpful resource. I'll check into it more.

Th-th-that's all for now, folks.



Check out the Chatham County Bulletin Board on the Herald article on Smith Level Road Traffic and the Chapel Hill News article on Why Business is Everyone's Business:

OK, folks, Here's the Deal:

(BTW: VERY interesting discussion and documents posted on Chatham board---Good find, Terri.)

Meeting at 7 pm, Thursday, July 28th. Dockside Restaurant. Come at 6 pm and enjoy some great food from a supporter. RSVP to me so he can catch more fish.

NC DOT officials and Chatham Planning Director Keith Megginson have been invited to discuss with the public the plans and possibilities for a retail shopping center (commonly known as the Super Wal-Mart site) on 15/501 at the Chatham/Orange Border. Former Chatham County Commission Chairman Gary Phillips will facilitate the discussion.
As citizens we demand to have a voice in what may be a radical transformation of our community, from forested rural neighborhoods to a sprawling, congested suburban sprawl, creating boarded-up local businesses, poverty-level jobs, and environmental disasters.
Please post this to your neighborhood list servs and forward to any concerned citizen. Let me know if you want to remain informed of the latest developments on this issue. This will be the last bulletin unless you reply with a "yes."

Mark Barroso


Thanks everyone for your interest in this topic. My email is mbarroso@mindspring.com. I should add that Chatham's Planning DIrector Kieth Megginson and DOT officials have been invited, but haven't confirmed their attendance. I will keep you posted.

Mark Barroso

This is the editorial in Sunday's Chapel HIll News:


The editor seems to be reading other newspapers for his information on this proposal.

He also has some useful advice.

Sunday's Chapel Hill Herald has a page one article, a follow up by Gronberg to his piece this past week, headlined:

Big box traffic forecast: Heavy;
Chatham project could generate 21,600 car trips a day


There's also an editorial, which apparently won't be on the website for a couple of days.

For some perspective on the traffic numbers: the Chapel Hill 2003 Mobility Report Card shows the "daily two-way capacity" for all parts of U.S. 15-501 from I-40 to the Pittsboro exit as 37.200 trips per day. That's the Town's estimate for the capacity of a road with four travel lanes. The 2001 actual traffic counts put all parts of the road between those points at LOS F (a volume to capacity ratio of greater than 1.0) or just below it ( in the area of Elliott Road). That's on a scale of A to F. (Martin Luther King Boulevard at Town Hall is rated A, for more perspective).

For more numerical perspective: the Carrboro 2003 Mobility Report Card (a first attempt) shows that the most heavily-traveled section of four-lane road in town in 2003 was NC 54 just west of Smith Level Road – 33,000 trips a day on a road with estimated capacity of 37,200. I don't see any evidence that the Ramey Kemp traffic study looked at impacts on that location, but you have to believe there will be some – if not a lot.

Chapel Hill's 2001 report is somewhere on the Planning Department website, and the 2003 report may be up soon. I don't know if Carrboro has a link to its report. The two towns are the only ones in the three-county, four-municipality Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to do these useful reports. They also include the most detailed counts of pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users on town roads that the consultant says he does anywhere in the nation. (This was said in response to my question about counts of that type done elsewhere).

Anyway, it looks like almost 60 percent of the capacity of the new four-lane 15-501 would be swallowed up by one project. That may not leave much room for anything else Chatham might want in the future.

I spoke with someone in Congestion Mgmt at DOT on Friday and was told that the consultants "trips" number did not include the new park and ride. Although UNC was not required to conduct a traffic impact analysis, the consultant's report should have included that project. DOT would not say anything more except that they are in further communication with the developer and that the traffic generated from the park and ride will be included in their decision making.

Given that Wal-Mart's low prices help facilitate low wages in the U.S. and given that one of the main arguments for Wal-Mart is that it is unfair to lower income people to deprive them of low priced stuff, a facet of any campaign against Wal-Mart should be support for a living wage.

Living wage ALONG with local economic development and enough targeted retail to keep prices reasonable.

Ed, I wonder how the developers would react if we asked that they, based on the conservatively estimated %60 capacity consumption, pay to "fix the damage"? We wouldn't want a repeat of Perryville where significant costs were offloaded to the taxpayer for a developers personal gain would we?

Terri, the analysis also omits impacts from Briar Chapel, Booth's Mt., Obey Creek, new HS, etc. Thanks for confirming my point on the UNC park-n-ride.

Mark, maybe "all evidence" points towards it but we're not sure it's a Wal-mart. I think we should initially concentrate on those impacts a mega-project brings; water, air, light, noise pollution, immediate traffic congestion, etc. When it turns out this isn't an Ikea all the negative economic impacts should be aired.

Ed and/or Alex can correct me if I'm wrong, but it's my understanding that Briar Chapel and developments further down the road have nothing to do with this plan. Traffic feasibility studies (and environmental impact analyses) look at site specific impact only. UNC needs to be included because that facility is part of the 'site' in terms of entry/exit onto 15-501 and the planned intersection at Woodbridge.

This is yet another example of how fragmented planning is. Rather than looking at system or community wide impact, state and county bureaucrats) look only required to regulate proposed developments. That's why the wastewater issue is so critically important. Innumerable septic and spray fields have already been built along with some very large package plants. In and of themselves each development/site is safe and theoretically will have no negative impact on groundwater. HOWEVER, the cumulative effect of all those systems is never considered. Nor are the practical considerations of oversight/monitoring. Chatham depends on DENR for water quality and those agencies are very short staffed. The potential for an ecological disaster increases with each new development. The planning process is seriously flawed.


Last Week's Top 25 topics on the Chatham Online Bulletin Board are located at http://www.chathamnc.com/cgi-bin/ib3/ikonboard.cgi?s=635d443899b84bca0e5...

If you can't remember the log-address you can always start at http://www.chathamnc.com and click on bulletin board topics

The Chapel Hill News on-line poll currently has 58% opposed to a Wal-Mart and 40% in favor.



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