A group called the Fairgrounds Neighborhood Association has organized in response to a Wal-Mart supercenter proposed for Northeast 134th Street beside the Holiday Inn Express in Vancouver, Washington. Residents opposed to the project have been asked to send their written comments to the county planners office. Neighbors complain that there is already a Wal-Mart within 2 miles of this proposed new store, and that even though this area just completed a road project to alleviate congestion, it is still a major traffic bottleneck in the Salmon Creek area — without the planned Wal-Mart. The new Legacy Salmon Creek hospital is located there, as well as Washington State University, a Fred Meyer’s store, plus Safeway and Albertson’s grocery stores. Economically speaking, the project offers little gain for Vancouver, since the Safeway and Albertson’s grocery stores within a mile of the proposed location will suffer most of the “captured” sales when Wal-Mart opens. Although the local newspaper, the Columbian, called the project “a done deal,” even projects located on highway commercial property can be stopped if they present adverse impacts to the welfare of the community, such as traffic, impact on area property values — issues that are scale-related. There is a building moratorium in place in the county, but the Wal-Mart application was apparently submitted before the moratorium took effect. County Planners are expected to have a list of conditions to impose on the application by December 28th. The adverse impacts on surrounding residential property, however, cannot be mitigated. Superstores and housing subdivisions are not compatible land uses, and Wal-Mart’s gain is usually a homeowner’s loss.
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