Wal-Mart pulled out of Rockland, Maine recently (see newsflash below) and is now trolling for more land in nearby communities. Local activists in Belfast, Maine have reported a sighting of the huge retailer there. A ‘special’ city council meeting was held on June 24, 2000 to announce Wal Mart had optioned a parcel of land for a 155,000 sq. ft. superstore in Belfast (population 6,500). A Wal-Mart representative said the huge store would have a 5 or 6 mile primary trade area. The parcel in question, which is along Route 3, requires a zoning change for the project to go forward. The parcel is primarily zoned residential growth and is surrounded by residential development. The roughly 38 acres has a strip of commercial zoning 500 feet deep into the property, but Wal-Mart would need the whole parcel rezoned commercial. The special meeting was conducted with no prior notice (only an announcement in the morning newspaper) on a Saturday afternoon. Wal-Mart has just two weeks previously lost an attempt to build a similar store in Rockland, ME, a town 25 miles away from Belfast. Despite the lack of notice, the city council chambers were overflowing with citizens opposed to this project. The Mayor informed the citizens in attendance that the meeting was just an announcement and no one from the public was allowed to speak. A local citizens group has been formed and will oppose any attempt at improper zoning changes or development that will decimate the historic downtown area of Belfast.
Belfast has invested a great deal of time and money to develop its downtown and the historic character of the community. A Wal-Mart supercenter is not expected to hold water in this seaside community. Many residents appear to be ready to cut bait and let Wal-Mart drift away. For more information about how you can help the citizens of Belfast fight the serpent sprawl, contact Mike Towey at: [email protected], or 207-338-2191.