Residents in Edgewood, New Mexico were unwilling to let their town officials bend the rules for Wal-Mart, and its developer, Fonterra Development. When citizens legally challenged the town’s decision to allow a big box development, the town claimed that the group did not have “standing” to bring the case to court. According to anti-Wal-Mart forces in Edgewood, they have won the right to have their day in court. Here is their report to Sprawl-Busters: “Our lawsuit arguing that the zoning decision (which created the potential Wal-Mart / Home Depot site) was illegal was upheld in court. The town argued that we didn’t have legal standing to appeal the decision; the judge says we do. Our court date will be in January or February. Our battle may be different than most of yours as the town sentiment is that a big box would be welcome (I do not personally agree this is good, but that is what most people want) but the town is consistently a) violating laws in its procedures and b) not listening to the vast majority of the big box supporters in that even THEY want the store size to be the smaller discount store types and NOT a supercenter. In any case, they can’t do anything until the spring now that the zoning appeal will be held up in court. A second suit is also in court that would overturn the annexation of this property in to the town altogether, and that won’t be heard until at least January. If the town would agree to implement design standards and a big box ordinance, I can guarantee both suits would be dropped in a flash – but they won’t, so the suits will be fought to the end.
Developers use the law as a club to scare local officials, so it’s entirely fitting that citizens use the law to challenge pro-development town officials. If education does not work, sometimes litigation is the only way to educate. For local contacts in Edgewood, New Mexico, contact [email protected]