Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Wal-Mart Ups the Ante

Unsatisfied to simply fill in 13-acres of the Little Patuxent's floodplain, Wal-Mart has decided to upgrade its original plans for a store on Route 3 in Crofton to include the construction of a "Supercenter". In Wal-Mart lingo, a "Supercenter" includes not only conventional retail options, but grocery goods as well. This, despite the fact that Wal-Mart has repeatedly denied an interest in providing grocery shopping at the location in the past.

The Sun article repeats misinformation propagated by the development team that the project calls for "filling in at least 3,500 cubic yards of nontidal wetlands along the Little Patuxent River." Actually, in this case, the Sun conflates two different pieces of information: The fill (volume) will be used on the Little Patuxent floodplain, to bring the 13 acres up to a flat grade with the existing, upland piece of the property. The amount of fill is not 3,500 cubic yards, but instead something like 37,000 cubic yards, about 3,700 dump truck loads. The non-tidal wetlands (area) that will be destroyed is something on the order of .6 acres.

Needless to say, Wal-Mart's change of plans has even gotten the normally docile Ed Reilly worked up, "They made a fundamental change to the character of the project without consulting us and notifying us, and that concerns us. I am very disappointed that they didn't contact us." Watch out folks, he's disappointed. I suspect that when hundreds turned out against Wal-Mart late last year, the handwriting on the wall was in large enough font that even Councilman Reilly could make it out.

Councilman Benoit, whose district includes the site of planned store, offered: "The message that Wal-Mart is sending: They don't care what the residents of this county think. I don't know what they are trying to do. If they are trying to incite major, major community resentment, they are going to succeed."

Is this hubris on Wal-Mart's part, or a high stakes game of chicken?

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