Residents in Lee’s Summit, Missouri have held a couple of “summits” of their own to discuss how they can stop Wal-Mart from building a supercenter in their community. According to the Kansas City Star, a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter has prompted two neighborhood meetings, with over 100 residents at each. Residents are exploring whether the land off Todd George Road could be put to better use. A meeting with Wal-Mart officials regarding traffic, noise, lighting, appearance of the store and crime is also in the works. Neighbors are also working on filing a legal protest, which requires owners of 30 percent of the land within 185 feet of the project to sign a petition, according to the Star. If that petition is filed, the project requires six rather than five votes — to be cast in favor of the project by the eight-member City Council. This kind of “super-majority” vote is a common feature of many zoning ordinances (see Mason City, IA stories below). The 145,000 s.f. Wal-Mart Supercenter is on the Nov. 14th agenda of the Planning Commission. Wal-Mart wants to build on 23 acres of land on the edge of town, near a new outter road. The residential development Charleston Park is located to the north of this location.
Lee’s Summit already has one more Wal-Mart than it needs, and that store is being expanded to 204,000 s.f. Missouri as a state now has 13 “dead” Wal-Marts on the market, which ranks the state the 10th. highest host of empty Wal-Marts in the nation. All this changing of stores is producing questionable “growth” for Missouri towns, since most revenues that enter a Wal-Mart store are merely captured from existing businesses in town. In particular, the Wal-Mart supercenter is merely a vehicle to grab market share from existing grocery stores. According to the New York Times, Wal-Mart now controls more than 6% of total annual retail spending in America, excluding cars and boats. Wal-Mart’s gains have largely been at other merchants’ expense, leaving local communities like Lee’s Summit with a retail zero sum game.