Schnecksville, Pennsylvania is an 1.3 square mile area within North Whitehall Township. Schnecksville is a suburb of Allentown, Pennsylvania, in Lehigh Valley, with a population of roughly 2,000. The community has 7 Wal-Mart stores within 20 miles, including three supercenters, with a supercenter in Whitehall a mere 7 miles away. In its continuing drive to saturate the area, Wal-Mart has proposed a 176,846-s.f. superstore on 32.6 acres at Route 309 and Levans Road. North Whitehall Supervisors will have the final say on the proposal, and are currently selecting a traffic engineering firm to study the impact of the Wal-Mart plan on the already proposed widening of route 309. The Route 309 improvement project has been in the planning for several years. The road-widening project is estimated to cost as much as $13.5 million, and will include the widening of a one-mile stretch of Route 309. The state estimates that 309 carries an estimated 18,500 vehicles travel daily. A Wal-Mart supercenter could increase that total by more than a third. The state Department of Transportation and the federal government have provided the major funding for the design and construction work, which will now have Wal-Mart as its primary beneficiary. The fa??ade of the Wal-Mart store will face the south rather than the highway, according to the Morning Call newspaper. The project is currently under review by the The township’s planning commission, and Wal-Mart held an “an open house” for residents at the Lehigh Carbon Community College recently. Despite this PR push, local residents in Schnecksville are starting to organize against the superstore.
One local woman has begun organizing opposition to Wal-Mart. “As a member of this community,” she wrote in a letter to the editor, “I take pride in the local businesses that exist here and do not want them pushed out by this large, inexpensive, overseas purchasing corporation… All these supercenters do is create more traffic, the loss of local businesses and precious farmland and, the scariest of all, increased criminal activity! Who wants that in their backyards? Not me! In a society that is going ‘green,’ Wal-Mart is among the least concerned. But, as a tax-paying citizen of North Whitehall Township, I am most concerned. I have started a petition to stop this virus from growing. I look forward to seeing my neighbors join me in this fight at the local township meetings and community gatherings.” These residents will need much more than a petition to stop the world’s largest retailer. Strategies for fighting sprawl can be found at www.walmartwatch.com/battlemart. For local contacts in Schnecksville, contact [email protected]