A group of citizens in Liberty, Ohio are fighting for their libery from Wal-Mart, and a federal judge ruled this past week that they can join a lawsuit to defend their town’s actions in blocking the supercenter. The Liberty Township-Powell Neighborhood Watch Foundation was granted the right to become a party to the federal lawsuit over a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter. According to This Week newspaper, Magistrate Judge Norah McCann King of the U.S. District Court wrote that the foundation “is entitled to intervene … when it demonstrates a legal interest in the subject matter of the pending action, establishes that disposition of the action may impair or impede its ability to protect that legal interest, and demonstrates that the existing parties to the action cannot adequately protect the proposed intervenor’s interest.” The foundation is a citizens groups created to oppose the Wal-Mart supercenter. The federal lawsuit they are joining was filed in November, 2004 by a group of investors, Wedgewood Limited Partnership, who own the land that Wal-Mart wanted to build on. Wedgewood is suing Libery township for denying a zoning permit for the supercenter. So now the citizens can help defend their town against Wedgewood’s suit. A spokesman for the town said the judge’s ruling was “a complete victory for the neighbors. The developer has consistently tried to shut them (neighbors) out of the process.” The residents charge that the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter would bring more problems than it would solve, and they say the lawsuit has no business being heard in federal court.
Once again a developer has tried to use the legal system to intimidate a community that voted to keep Wal-Mart out, but in so doing, they have delayed any progress on the plan, and cost taxpayers — and themselves — thousands of dollars in legal costs. Even though Sam Walton said his company would not “create a fuss” if a town did not want them, that advice has been ignored by the company and the developer. Now the developer can look forward to months of wrangling, and a township plus a citizens group fighting them every step of the way. If Wedgewood had been more careful in selecting their site and the size of their project, they could have been developing something more than just a lawsuit.