Who We Are
Sprawl-Busters helps local community coalitions remotely or on-site to design and implement successful campaigns against megastores, fulfillment warehouses, and other undesirable large-scale developments.
In hundreds of communities, we have helped citizens groups strategize and carry out a plan to stop the superstores.
Developing the basic coalition infrastructure necessary to conduct a coordinated campaign.
On-site assistance with the daily logistics of conducting a grass-roots and media campaign.
Help with campaigns that involve referendums, town meeting votes, exit polls, and more.
Every campaign needs pyrotechnics. We’ll help you attract the media with our reputation.
Follow-up support by phone, includng special data searches, strategic responses, and more.
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement"
Al Norman first achieved national attention in October of 1993 when he successfully stopped Wal-Mart from locating in his hometown of Greenfield, Massachusetts. Almost 3 decades later they is still not Wal-Mart in Greenfield. Norman has appeared on 60 Minutes, was featured in three films, wrote 3 books about Wal-Mart, and gained widespread media attention from the Wall Street Journal to Fortune magazine. Al has traveled throughout the U.S., Barbados, Puerto Rico, Ireland, and Japan, helping dozens of local coalitions fight off unwanted sprawl development. 60 Minutes called Al “the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement.”
We Will Help You Every Step Of The Way
Our commitment to community groups is that we will coach you from the first press release, through the planning and zoning process,until a project is finally rejected. We are available by phone, online, and in person in your community as needed.
Important Things You Should Know
Questions And Answers
There is no way of predicting how a battle will go in your community, but one thing is certain: if you don’t try, you have a 100% chance of not winning. Some projects are easy to defeat, because they do not meet local zoning requirements. But if there is no vocal opposition, local officials may give developers whatever they ask for.
The Sprawl-Busters website contains a list of more than 450 communities where big box projects have been defeated—at least once. Sometimes a corporation will come back a second time at a different location, but these community victories are not isolated events.
As soon as you learn about an unwanted development, try to use local social media to pull together a citizens’ group to challenge the project. A good how-to guide is the book SLAM-DUNKING WAL-MART. You can find a used copy on Amazon for a few dollars—or email Al Norman at [email protected]. Get a copy of the proposal submitted to your town/city from your town clerk, or other local official. Once a project is submitted, it becomes a public document, available for you to review and copy. Contact a local land use attorney for advice. This is not a real estate lawyer. You need someone who makes presentations before Planning or Zoning Boards. Set up a fund-raising committee to help you raise funding on social media, and assign someone to write press releases to let your local media know you exist.
You should expect the process to last from six months to a year. Some site fights can end quickly, some can drag on for years, especially if you are able to appeal to court. One community appealed a special permit given to a Wal-Mart project in 2011, and the case was in the courts for nine years.
For the initial phase, if you are involved with a Planning Board or Zoning Board application by a developer, you will want to be represented by a land use attorney, who may charge $250 to $450 an hour. You may also need a specialist in zoning, wetlands, etc. You should set a goal of raising $10,000 for the beginning phase of your battle. If you go to court, you will need to raise much more. We can tell you where to find financial support, and how to raise the funds needed.
Yes. There are some simple, legal changes to zoning that can limit big box sprawl—but it can take time to get community leaders to embrace such changes. For example, any community can place a cap on the size of retail stores, say 40,000 square feet. Its legal, its been done in a number of forward-thinking communities, and it doesn’t cost anything to do it. The size cap can vary based on local conditions.
Contact Sprawl-Busters at [email protected] or (413) 834-4284 for this and other ideas for pro-actively making big box/warehouse sprawl impossible.
Call us at 413-834-4284. We are on Eastern Standard Time. Or send us a text at that numbers. You can also email us at: [email protected]. Check out this website’s Sprawl-Buster’s blog daily for new posts on sprawl and small business issues.
Sprawl comes in many sizes and forms. Each community battle is unique. Let’s review the details of your case, the proposal submitted, and your zoning rules, to help come up with the best solution that works in your city and town.
Your Quality of Life
is Worth More than a
Cheap Pair of Underwear
If a warehouse or big box store is causing you a big problem, call on Sprawl-Busters! Local visits can be arranged. Contact us for more information.