This is one of those marathon stories about a community that has staved off Wal-Mart for at least five years. A circuit judge heard arguments this week over Wal-Mart’s challenge of a Volusia County Council decision to block development of a 211,000 s.f. Wal-Mart superstore on State Road 44. Wal-Mart filed their law suit last year (see 7/23/02 Newsflash) when the County denied them a building permit for a store that is located less than a mile away from its existing 86,000 s.f. store in DeLand. The county also rejected a tree-removal permit and the site plan. Wal-Mart’s lawyer was quoted in the Daytona Beach News-Journal as saying: “(They) pulled the welcome mat right out from under us.” Wal-Mart accused the county officials of caving into public pressure. Residents had complained about traffic, impact on wetlands, and removal of 4 historic oak trees. While the Judge ponders this case, the city of DeLand reached an agreement with local residents who had been fighting the project. Residents had sued the city and Wal-Mart on traffic and impact on the downtown. This week, the residents agreed to drop their lawsuit in exchange for what the newspaper called “a few concessions”, including a $55,000 check for downtown beautification. A small price for Wal-Mart to pay for a superstore that could bring in $74 million in sales a year.
When Wal-Mart makes its growth projections for new stores, they must assume that some of their stores are going to run into a quagmire like DeLand. You’ve got to figure that the delays in building this superstore, which will lead to the closure of the nearby Wal-Mart discount store, has cost the company more than $350 million in lost sales. For more history on the DeLand delay, search these archives by the name of the town.