Residents in Spring Hill, Florida fought off a Wal-Mart supercenter for about two and a half years (search “Spring Hill” for earlier stories.) Wal-Mart eventually squeezed its way into town, but opponents say if they build it, they won’t come. According to the St.Petersburg Times, the Coalition for Anti-Urban Sprawl and the Environment (CAUSE) sponsored a New Orleans-style jazz funeral and entertainment on August 10th. to protest the soon-to-be-constructed Wal-Mart Supercenter at
U.S. 19 and Osowaw Boulevard.The CAUSE event will kick off a “boycott/procott”, in which the Hernando County Green Party will urge people to shop at local businesses rather than Wal-Mart.”Wal-Mart is anti-American; they are single-handedly responsible for the demise of small American businesses all over this country,” CAUSE spokeswoman Arline Erdrich was quoted in the article. In July, CAUSE filed a lawsuit seeking to stop Wal-Mart, saying that the county violated the state’s Sunshine Law when it considered Wal-Mart’s development permits for the new supercenter. The group said the public was barred from Development Review Committee meetings during the permitting process.CAUSE wants Wal-Mart’s permit revoked and a return to the review process so it can play a greater role.The 225,000 s.f. building is already under construction, according to the Times.The article quotes Sprawl-Buster Al Norman as saying: “If they don’t venture a lawsuit, they gain nothing, and they have everything to lose here.” The courts could find Wal-Mart on U.S. 19 illegal, even if it were open, Norman said.That’s what happened two weeks ago, in Decorah, Iowa (see story). The Iowa appeals court reversed a lower court ruling, finding that the Decorah City Council illegally approved a rezoning for a Wal-Mart Supercenter, which was built on a flood plain and is scheduled to open next month. CAUSE attorney Ralf Brooks also noted a case recently reaffirmed by the Florida Supreme Court: in which a $3.3-million luxury complex must be demolished because it violates the Martin County comprehensive plan.The Times cited a figure from USA Today that
in 2000, Wal- Mart was sued 4,851 times, or once every two hours, each day of the
year. CAUSE organizers said “we can’t fight them with money, but we can fight them with public opinion.”
We first wrote about this commmunity in December of 1999. It took Wal-Mart a long time to break into Spring Hill, and even now residents are organizing to lower their sales volume. This is a far cry from 10 years ago, when such stores would have walked into Spring Hill. For local contacts in Spring Hill, go to the December 10, 2001 entry for this town.