A group called Citizens for Pasco County in Florida has organized to stop several Wal-Mart’s from being built in Bayonet Point and Holiday. They sent Sprawl-Busters the following field report: “Our fight is against a proposed Wal-Mart in Bayonet Point, Florida, 3.8 miles from the Port Richey Super Center. Wal-Mart wants to build a Super Center on an existing commercial site at the corner of US 19 and Beacon Woods Dr., the road leading into our village community. They plan to build a bridge over our Bear Creek, dumping a good portion of the traffic from their parking lot onto Beacon Woods drive. This will have a devastating effect on our village. We know that crime, pollution, traffic accidents, increase police protection, increased taxes, and lower land values for a large part of our 4,000 residents will be the outcome. The Pasco County Board of Commissioners passed a proposed County Ordnance to control Commercial Development on US 19, the most dangerous US highway in the US. The Board is using the existing Concurrency Law to support the measure. The next meeting of the County Board, to consider making the Proposed Ordinance an enforceable Ordinance, was to occur on May 20th but this has been postponed while a new traffic study is being completed. The Pasco County Board ia already feeling a lot of pressure from Business Development Companies, Real-estate Businesses and Legal organizations trying to block the ordinance from being implemented. Business Greed vs. Public Safety – its the same old battle.” According to the St. Petersburg Times newspaper, the county proposal to limit development along U.S. 19 would cause serious problems for two planned Wal-Marts, and the County’s Economic Development Council is lobbying against it. The County’s proposal allows new development on vacant land to increase traffic on U.S. 19 by only 1 percent over the existing daily car trips. This would allow smaller stores to develop, but not superstores. The proposed ordinance further allow projects locating on an existing site to “inherit” the existing number of car trips already permitted there, so a larger store could be built on sites already developed. “We’ve got a lot of sites that can be developed out there so we do not feel we’re diminishing commercial growth,” said County Commissioner Peter Altman, who wrote the ordinance. The county ordinance would block Wal-Mart at Bayonet Point and Holiday, because neither project has obtained a building permit yet.
The lawyer representing Wal-Mart in the Holiday case suggested a very imaginative way of looking at big box traffic. Wal-Mart is not the real culprit for U.S. 19 traffic problems, he said. Another Wal-Mart on U.S. 19 “is not generating traffic, it’s just re-directing (it).” Similarly, homeowners in Bayonet Point and Holiday who are opposing these Wal-Marts could respond by saying they don’t want to stop the retailer, they’re just redirecting it. For local contacts in Pasco County, contact [email protected]