On May 13th, the Winston-Salem, North Carolina planning board voting 6-3 to recommend denial of Wal-Mart’s plan to build a 223,000-square-foot supercenter along Reynolds road near Shattalon Drive. According to the Winstonp-Salem Journal, officials could not remember the last time that the planning board rejected a large commercial development such as Wal-Mart. The vote does not bury Wal-Mart, however, because the City Council gets the final word when it takes up the proposal this summer. However, the city is clearly concerned about the impacts of overdevelopment, because they slapped on a 90 day moratorium in April, and suspended rezonings and permits for all new large-scale retail development 150,000 square feet and larger – regardless of whether the development has a single tenant or multiple tenants. The city Planning Board conducted a public hearing last month. One member of the board was quoted as saying, “Wal-Mart may not be the answer, but it’s the only thing on the plate right now that’s going to help that area survive.” Before the Wal-Mart proposal could move forward however, the City Council passed the moratorium, so they could explore new design guidelines and regulations on large-scale retail development. Wal-Mart told local officials that they pay nearly $700,000 a year in real and personal-property taxes, and would pay $190,000 more if the new store is built. But Planning Board members feared that the Reynolds Road location chosen by Wal-Mart would be the start of a new mall zone, and that the existing commercial centers should be developed, not new zones. The city has a “metro activity center” a few miles away, where development is preferred. City planners recommended that the Wal-Mart be denied, warning that it would set a precedent that would lead to commercial over-development.
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