According to the Courier-Post newspaper, the Mayor of Deptford, New Jersey is mystified why his Planning Board rejected a Wal-Mart located in a former shopping center. “The location is zoned for that and it meets the master plan criteria,” Mayor Bill Bain told the paper. “They didn’t need anything from us.” The Mayor and his town Manager were the only two out of nine members on the Board who voted for the store. It seems the Mayor couldn’t convince his own constituents to support the store, because residents at the hearing testified against the plan, raising serious traffic concerns. Even the Mayor of neighboring Woodbury spoke out against the retailer. The Mayor was so hungry for this store, he helped push through a Master Plan change to pave the way for a supercenter. Wal-Mart has plans for two other supercenters in the area, and to convert an existing Wal-Mart to a larger format. So even with the loss of the Wal-Mart store in Deptford, the area is fully saturated with the big box retailer.
Another Wal-Mart gets slam-dunked, even though local officials were ‘in the tank’ with the developer. Clearly Deptford does not need another Wal-Mart, because the area is prolific with the stores. The fact that the Mayor had to change the Master Plan tells you something about the appropriateness of this proposal. Wal-Mart has not said whether or not it will appeal the decision of the Planning Board, but it will have to show that the town was arbitrary and capricious to make its case. If the Mayor remains baffled by the vote, perhaps he should just sit down the people who elected him and ask the voters why they didn’t want the store. It might save him some frustration in the future.