A Wal-Mart denied is better than a Wal-Mart delayed — but either is preferable to a Wal-Mart opening. There is no such thing as a soft landing for Wal-Mart supercenters any more. Almost everywhere they go, Wal-Mart runs headlong into citizen opposition, and even when Wal-Mart eventually wins, the process is becoming more time-consuming. And time is money. In Miami Township, Ohio, Wal-Mart had to spend a year in appeal before finally getting the go-ahead this week — and the only reason they won the appeal, is because their opponents ran out of money. The Wal-Mart project was approved a year ago, but residents hired a lawyer, and filed an appeal with the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission. The lawyer, Tim Mara, told the Dayton Daily News that residents had to end their case because they had no more cash. That means the Wal-Mart supercenter near the Dayton Mall can now proceed with their long-delayed construction. The citizens charged that the Ohio EPA should not have approved a special permit allowing Wal-Mart to fill in roughly one acre of wetlands, and have an impact on three tributaries of Holes Creek. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also signed off on the project. Because of citizen opposition, Wal-Mart had to reduce the size of the store from 184,000 to 176,351 s.f. — a minor change for the retailer. A tire and lube center also was taken out of the site plan. Unfortunately for Miami, the new supercenter will shut down the existing Wal-Mart discount store, leaving the community with a potential eyesore on Springboro Pike. In exchange for the Ohio EPA approval of the store, Wal-Mart had to agree to create a “fen,” in another neighborhood. A fen is a wetland created by glacial activity that receives groundwater as its source, and they are rare in Ohio. Wal-Mart also agreed to restore a stream in another township. The retailer signed an agreement with the OEPA and the Army Corps to restore the fen within six months after they begin work on their construction site. According to the Dayton Daily News, Wal-Mart will be required to monitor the fen for five years to ensure that it is successful.
The absurdity of this battle over a superstore in Miami township, is that there are three Wal-Mart supercenters already within 10 miles of Miami: one in Franklin, one in Moraine, and one in Centerville, Ohio. This project offers little added value to Miami Township, because the only new feature of the larger Wal-Mart is the grocery store, and there are already plenty of superstore options in the trade area. The new Wal-Mart supercenter will largely cannibalize sales from its existing stores. Readers are urged to email the President of the Miami Township Board of Trustees, Deborah Preston, at http://ww.miamitownship.com/contact.htm#Email with the following message: “Dear President Preston, Many of your residents are not happy that Wal-Mart has been able to move forward with construction of a superstore. In addition to the environmental work that Wal-Mart is being required to perform, the township ought to write up a developer’s agreement regarding the retailer’s “old” store that will be shut down. The developer’s agreement should require Wal-Mart to post a demolition bond to pay for the cost of demolishing their store on Springboro Pike if it remains unused as a retail store for 24 consecutive months. This store could sit there for years, and become a target for vandalism. Now that the big mistake has been made, don’t make a second mistake by letting them walk away from their original store.”