Wal-Mart has been applying pressure throughout Utah to open up new stores in this state. Newsflash has written about clashes in towns like Centerville and Sandy, but now add to the list Syracuse, Utah. Sprawl-Busters received the following report this week: “We are considering starting an active campaign to stop a new Wal-Mart store from being opened in the center of our little farm/residential town. Syracuse, Utah currently has one major retail store which is a local furniture retail chain called R.C. Willey. The remainder of our town is completely residential and almost strictly single family homes. However, we are the “fastest growing town” in Utah. Developers are buying and building on property faster than I have ever seen anywhere else in the country. However, this is considered acceptable because it does not take away from the reason that people move to Syracuse, which is to get away from urban sprawl and commercial developments. The numerous new residential developments cater to middle and upper middle class families seeking a quiet community in which to raise their children. There is a parcel of land located directly in the center of town previously owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The land is approximately 80 acres and is situated on the intersection with the only traffic light in town. The land also backs an upper middle class subdivision, is next to the town’s only park and backs to the town’s elementary and middle schools. The progress of this development plan was kept quiet. Apparently, the city council recently changed zoning and the liquor laws to accommodate this project. They now have a “proposed” architectural model, so I am guessing that it has already been approved. This has taken many of us by complete surprise. It has also been considered a slap in the face from the Mayor and council. A few of my concerns and the concerns of the neighbors whom I have discussed this with are as follows: 1. There are two other Super Wal-Mart’s within 10 miles of each other. One is about 7 miles to the North and one about 5 miles to the south. This does not take into consideration the major shopping centers including a large mall located 5 miles to the East. It is just not necessary to have one in every town! Discount shopping does not need to be this convenient. 2. The close proximity to the schools poses a concern with children walking to school. Increased vehicular traffic, increased pedestrian traffic and most importantly, increased safety issues with our children, who will inevitably use the parking lot as a short cut or gathering point on their way to school. 3. The close proximity to the city park poses the same dangers as above. 4. Property values will certainly decline for those communities bordering this development. Since the Mayor announced that they were moving forward with the Wal-Mart plans, 10 of our neighbors placed their homes up for sale. If property values are not affected due to real estate legal practices, resale will at least be more difficult in my opinion. I know that we would have never purchased this house if the Wal-Mart was pre-existing. 5. People moved to Syracuse because it was a family oriented farming/residential community. If we wanted to live in an overdeveloped area, there are plenty around. It seems that the Mayor and City Council have lost touch with the desires of the citizens of Syracuse. We are considering starting a petition, but we’re not sure what else we can do. Syracuse City is hosting an Open House on March 31st where they will unveil the model and also have a question and answer session.
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